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How to Do Reverse Crunches for Awesome Abs

If you want to sculpt your lower abs, it's time to mix up your classic crunch. Reverse crunches hone in on the bottom portion of your rectus abdominus to take your four pack to a six pack, says personal trainer Mike Donavanik, CSCS. Plus, they train your tranverse abdominis, your natural internal girdle, more than traditional crunches do. But to reap these rewards, you need to know how to do reverse crunches properly. That means not letting your hands, arms, or, even worse, momentum, do the work. Learn how to do reverse crunches the right way with these easy-to-follow instructions.

  1. Lie on the ground in a traditional crunch position, your feet flat on the floor and hands underneath your head.
  2. Press your lower back into the floor and pull in your belly button to lift your feet off of the floor. Keep your knees together, bent at 90-degree angles.
  3. Using your core, pull your knees into your chest so that your tailbone raises off of the ground, and simultaneously perform a traditional crunch, lifting your shoulder blades off of the floor. Use your abs, not your hands, to lift your head and shoulders. Your hands are just there to protect your neck.
  4. Slowly lower your shoulders, hips, and legs to return to the starting position. Stop when your feet are just above the floor.
  5. Repeat the movement, making sure not to use momentum to power your next rep. Focus on squeezing those abs!

This crunch variation has variations of its own. To make reverse crunches easier, try lowering your feet all of the way to the floor at the end of each rep, or not lifting your shoulders and hips as high throughout the move, Donavanik says. If you're looking for an advanced progression, at the end of each rep, straighten your legs out in front of you, just above the floor. You can crank things way up by performing the exercise with your shoulders lifted and legs straight the entire time, he says. Raise your legs overhead, lift your hips, and then reverse the movement by lowering your hips down to the floor and your legs straight out in front of you, just off of the floor.