You don’t have to stick to the regular versions of exercises to get benefits. Discover how to do vertical leg crunches and why you could.
Vertical leg crunches are a crunch exercise variation where you hold your legs in the air at 90-degree angles instead of putting your feet flat on the ground.
The first result of this is that some people will find this variation slightly more comfortable than regular crunches due to the slightly different hip angle.
On the flip side, you can also say that your abs will have to go to a slightly smaller range of motion in vertical leg crunches.
This makes them just a bit less optimal than crunches for muscle growth and strength progress (but they are still relatively good).
If you don’t find vertical leg crunches that much more comfortable or fun, you likely want to stick to the regular variation.
How to do a vertical leg crunch
If you sometimes find floor core exercises uncomfortable, you likely want to use something like a yoga mat during this exercise.
That aside, take the following steps to do vertical leg crunches:
- Lie down on your back with your legs together. Keep them slightly less than stretched throughout the exercise.
- Raise your legs until they are about vertical. Keep your arms against your chest.
- Raise your shoulders as far as comfortable in a controlled motion. Make sure your lower back is still against the ground.
- Slowly lower your shoulders back to the ground.
Similar to the regular version, vertical leg crunches are relatively straightforward.
The main thing to keep in mind is that you don’t want to swing your head forward. Keep it in one line with your upper body.
Additionally, if your hamstrings (back thigh muscles) are tight, you don’t have to stretch your legs all the way.
Vertical leg crunches muscles worked
The main muscles worked in vertical leg crunches are your abs. You can also say that your hip flexors have to work to a small extent to raise your legs in the air and keep them there.
Some people will find the vertical leg crunch more comfortable.
However, you do need to know that your abs will go through a slightly smaller range of motion in this variation. This makes vertical leg crunches slightly less optimal for muscle growth and strength progress.
That being said, if you do vertical leg crunches with enough weight and repetitions. You can definitely still make these things happen.
People who are more advanced in terms of ab training may need to turn to the vertical leg version of one of the weighted crunches.
Vertical leg crunches benefits
Besides the slightly higher comfort level and the slightly smaller range of motion, vertical leg crunches are basically the same as the regular version.
In turn, the positive effects of this exercise will be very similar to the benefits of regular crunches. Some of these include:
- Stronger muscles: If you do them in a good routine, vertical leg crunches can help you grow and strengthen your abs.
- Can make your six-pack more visible: By growing your abs with vertical leg crunches, you could make your six-pack more visible. Keep in mind that your body fat percentage needs to be low enough for this.
- No equipment or location required: Some resistance could come in handy but many people will be able to see great results from vertical leg crunches. In turn, you don’t need to spend money on equipment or drive to the gym.
- May reduce or prevent back pain: Making your abs stronger can help reduce and prevent back (1, 2). If you currently have back pain you do want to be careful with vertical leg crunches.
Again, vertical leg crunches are not completely unique in these benefits.
At the same time, if their other aspects align with your preferences, you can definitely consider them.
Vertical leg crunch alternatives
You may also wonder what other options you have with similar benefits. Some of these vertical leg crunch alternatives are:
- Regular crunches
- Reverse crunches
- Bicycle crunches
- Hanging knee raises
- Plank variations
- Ab wheel roll-outs
Details like what muscles you want to work and what your body is comfortable with will influence what vertical leg crunch alternatives you prefer.
Are vertical leg crunches a good exercise?
Vertical leg crunches are a good exercise for working your ab muscles. Some people will find them slightly more comfortable than regular crunches.
On the flip side, vertical leg crunches are a tiny bit less effective because of the smaller ab range of motion.
That being said, you can still get great ab muscle growth and strength progress from vertical leg crunches.
Keep in mind that you may need to add some crunch equipment or pay more attention to your rep and set ranges to make these things happen.
Lastly, keep in mind that personal preference can be helpful for staying consistent. If you prefer one of the more effective vertical leg crunch alternatives with similar or more benefits, you can consider these too.
Are vertical leg crunches effective?
Vertical leg crunches can be effective if you use enough resistance and repetitions. That being said, it is worth mentioning that they will be a tiny amount less effective than regular crunches.
How many sets of vertical leg crunches should I do?
While it depends on your training goals, for something like muscle growth you preferably want to do 3 to 6 sets of vertical leg crunches. Ab workout beginners could even see results from 2 sets.