There are many muscles in the human body and many ways to work them. Find out how to do reverse crunches and whether they are good.
Reverse crunches are a variation of regular crunches where you keep your legs in a folded position and move your hips toward your chest instead of the other way around.
This exercise can be good for working your ab muscles and more specifically, the muscle fibers in the lower part.
If you do crunches with enough resistance and repetitions, you can grow and strengthen these ab muscles.
Similar to regular crunches, many people, especially resistance training beginners, will be able to see great results from bodyweight reverse crunches.
At the same time, it is worth mentioning that people who are more experienced with ab training may need to do weighted reverse crunches to achieve their fitness goals.
How to do a reverse crunch
If you have something like a yoga mat, this can be useful for doing reverse crunches in a more comfortable way.
That aside, take the following steps to do the exercise:
- Lie down on your back and keep your hips and knees at 90-degree angles. You can put your arms wherever it feels convenient and stable.
- Slowly move your hips toward your chest as far as comfortable while keeping your upper back on the ground. Use your abs to power this movement. Not the swinging of your legs.
- Return your hips to the floor in a controlled motion.
The main challenge of reverse crunches in terms of technique is not swinging your legs too much.
Keeping your movements slow can help with using your ab muscles to move your hips.
Muscles worked with reverse crunches
The main muscles you work with reverse crunches are your abs. More specifically, the muscle fibers in your lower abs.
Besides that, you also engage your hip flexors, glutes, quadriceps, and hamstrings a tiny amount to keep your legs in position.
Keep in mind that just doing a few reverse crunches here and there will not give you the biggest abs in the gym (or even just bigger abs).
You need a good exercise routine too which means doing the amounts of repetitions and using the amounts of weight that align with your training goals.
Many people are interested in growing their abs with reverse crunches.
For this purpose, you want to do something like 3 to 6 sets of 6 to 25 (and even up to 50) reverse crunches with resistance that makes these numbers very challenging.
More experienced lifters may need to wear a pair of ankle weights or clamp a medicine ball or dumbbell between their legs to stay within the ranges above.
Reverse crunches benefits
As you can expect, the positive effects of the reverse crunch variation will mostly be similar to the benefits of regular crunches.
That being said, in the list below, there is also an extra benefit to moving your hips instead.
- Grow and strengthen abs: Reverse crunches can help you grow and strengthen your abs. Besides the health benefits this offers, you may also like the visuals of more defined abs.
- No equipment or location required: Reverse crunches are a bodyweight exercise which means you don’t really need any equipment or a specific location. This can help you save time and money.
- Gets you familiar with engaging lower abs: Popular lower ab exercises like leg raises also involve leg movements. If you are new to these, it can be hard to know whether you are working your hip flexors or abs. Reverse crunches can help you understand what the difference feels like.
- May reduce or prevent back pain: Strengthening core muscles like your abs with reverse crunches can reduce or prevent back pain (1, 2). You do want to be careful with reverse crunches if you already have back pain and potentially talk to an expert first.
Reverse crunches are not the only exercise that can offer you these benefits.
However, these positive effects can still make it worth implementing this movement into your workout plan.
Are reverse crunches safe?
Similar to many other exercises, whether reverse crunches are safe or not depends a lot on your personal situation.
An exercise could be effective for strengthening muscles in one person and lead to injuries in another person.
With that in mind, the main concern people have with reverse crunches is the spine bending involved.
If you find this type of movement uncomfortable, it can be smart to start with static ab exercises like the plank exercise instead.
While you want to be rather safe than sorry, it is also worth noting that reverse crunches are safe for many people too. Bending your spine is not necessarily bad if your body can deal with it.
Reverse crunch alternatives
As briefly mentioned, you can work your abs (and other core muscles) with other exercises too. Some examples of reverse crunch alternatives are:
- Knee raises on the captain’s chair
- Flutter kicks
- Bicycle crunches
- Plank exercises
What muscles you want to work, your personal preferences, and what movements you are comfortable with will influence what reverse crunch alternatives are good for you.
Is the reverse crunch a good exercise?
The reverse crunch is a good exercise for growing and strengthening your abs and more specifically the muscle fibers in the lower part.
Additionally, this movement can be great for people who want to learn what the difference between engaging their abs and hip flexors feels like.
People who are experienced with ab workouts may need to use crunch equipment like a dumbbell or other weight to make reverse crunches challenging enough to see a lot of results.
It is worth quickly mentioning that other ab exercises can have similar effects. If you prefer these over reverse crunches for whatever reason, they can be good choices too.
Do reverse crunches really work?
Reverse crunches really work in the sense that they can grow, strengthen, and improve endurance in your abs if you do them with enough resistance and repetitions.
What does a reverse crunch do?
A reverse crunch done the right way works your ab muscles. In combination with a good exercise routine, this can grow and strengthen these muscles.