Reverse crunches are a type of crunch that is performed by lying on your back on the floor and bringing your knees in towards your chest. Then, you slowly lift your head and shoulders off the floor while keeping your lower back pressed against the ground. The reverse crunch and normal crunches target the same muscle groups, so they can be used interchangeably.
Types of Reverse Crunches:
The reverse crunch can be performed by either lowering the hips so the buttocks come close to the floor or by pulling in your stomach and bending your knees to bring your feet towards your head. There are two types of reverse crunches:
Reverse Crunch on Stability Ball:
If you’re not strong enough to do a standard crunch, but stronger than an inverted V sit-up, using a stability ball can make it easier. This move is effective for working the lower abs and obliques (sides) in addition to the rectus abdomen (front).
Reverse Crunch on Stability Ball with Reach Under:
This variation involves reaching under the stability ball while elevating your legs onto a bench or sofa behind you. Elevating your feet makes this exercise more difficult because it increases the resistance of gravity pulling down on you. This variation also shifts the focus of the exercise to your obliques.
Benefits of Reverse Crunches:
They allow you to work on flexibility and stability in a functional range of motion for crunches.
It involves more core stabilization than a traditional sit-up because it works both flexion and extension of the spine against resistance beyond what is possible during a normal crunch. This can be an important part of rehabbing from injuries or even strengthening after back surgery for some people. In addition, most people tend to use their hip flexors instead of their abs during ab exercises like sit-ups since they’re able to use their hip flexors so strongly. Reverse crunches let you work on strengthening your abs through the entire range of motion.
They allow you to feel what it’s like to be in a functional crunch position even if you can’t perform one yet, which is helpful for people rehabbing from injuries or trying to figure out how to do them correctly. If you’re able to do these but still want something else, check out my other article on Anti-Extension Core Exercises.
Other benefits of the reverse crunch are that it engages the abs while promoting spinal decompression. The different types of crunches engage different muscles in different ways, which is why it’s important to be familiar with this variation. It is also a good exercise for people with sciatica since it helps stretch out the stomach muscles.
As you gradually build up strength with reverse crunches, it is important to add weights such as ankle weights or resistance bands so you will continue burning calories while your muscles gain endurance. Weighted reverse crunches are especially beneficial when an individual has mastered basic reverse crunch movements.
For beginners, it is recommended that they perform this move using a mat and their hands to push off in order to get the feel for the motion. As they become more comfortable, the knees can be brought down and towards the head by lifting and bending them at the same time.