Cool exercise: the reverse crunch

Written by Mike on May 13th, 2009

In order to turn a paunch into a six-pack, the main thing you need is weight loss. However, coming in at number two are the abdominal strengthening exercises.

The most common of these are sit-ups and crunches. Unfortunately sit-ups are bad for a whole host of reasons (back problems, neck problems, not effectively isolating the abs, largely missing the lower abs). Crunches are good because they avoid the back and neck problems of sit-ups, but they still really only work out the upper abdominal muscles.

For a while my main abdonimal exercise had been crunches, holding a 5kg weight plate behind my head. This added resistance so I could do fewer, harder reps, which is better for building muscle. I could certainly feel the burn in my upper abs but my lower abs were getting off scot-free.

I found what I was after was the reverse crunch. You basically lie on the floor and stablise yourself by holding on to some weights with your hands, bend your knees with your feet flat on the floor, then use your abs to lift your legs and lower back up so your knees are near your head, then go back down again. The best place I have found describing it with a demo video and a good explanation of the advantages and common mistakes is at stronglifts.com.

The biggest thing to watch out for is using your hips too much. These need to be used as little as possible.

After doing it the first time, my abs were wrecked. I had never felt burn in my lower abs before, so it was awesome. I highly recommend anyone doing sit-ups switch to reverse crunches if possible (or at least just crunches). It will save your back, posture and be a better use of your time.

 

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