Happy Friday! The fall is already upon us, but it’s still pretty warm outside. This can only mean one thing: it’s still perfectly okay to do abs!
THE MOVE: Reverse Crunch
MOVEMENT PATTERN AND MUSCLES WORKED: corrective, core strength; abs.
WHY DO IT: Nothing like a little bit of abs to finish off a workout and leave satisfied, right? Well, that’s exactly what today’s move is, but there are a couple of things that I like about the reverse crunch, which I will detail here.
We’ve featured a similar-looking core exercise before, and truth be told they both share a lot of the same benefits. The reverse crunch is a safer way to concentrically contract rectus abdominus and other anterior core muscles without straining your lower back or your neck. This is just a technical way to say that the reverse crunch works the abs, without the problems caused by the regular crunch.
Another reason why I like the reverse crunch is for functional reasons. Have you ever heard of the notion that people who strength-train on a regular basis rarely “do abs” as part of their training, but still have them anyway? My guess is that this is because you have to brace the core hard to move heavy weights. When you brace your core, you push your torso out circumferentially in all directions. This creates a solid canister of air in your torso, making it hard as a rock and able to support massive weight.
The reverse crunch can help you build this core stability and strength. By using your lower abs to roll your knees to your chest, you are actually facilitating something called posterior pelvic tilt. This rolls your pelvis forward so that you can align you pelvis and ribs better. creating a better canister and stronger brace for big bang exercises like the squat and deadlift.
HOW TO DO IT: You’ll be starting out by lying on your back here, with your legs in a 90/90 position and your outstretched hands grasping a medicine ball, which will serve as a counterbalance. The heavier this is, the easier the ensuing crunches will be, so I’d encourage you to play around a bit and find a medicine ball (or a dumbbell or kettlebell) that works for you.
In this position, think about using your lower abs to pull your pelvis/hips forward and in towards your head. This will cause your butt to lift off the floor and your knees to roll towards your chest. When you can’t roll forward anymore, slowly unroll and lower your butt towards the floor again. Make sure to control this motion all the way down, and don’t let your ribs flare out.
Throughout this exercise, try to keep your knees flexed at 90 degrees or less. Also, try not to lift the counterbalance off the floor.
Done correctly and with stellar technique, the reverse crunch will really light up the lower abs. I’d recommend finishing off your workout with 2-3 sets of 10-12 reps. You can progress this by using a lighter counterbalance, and eventually with just your hands at your sides. Try this out and be sure to let us know what you think on Twitter or Instagram @halevylife !
by Jeremy Lau
Jeremy Lau is a Senior Staff Coach at Halevy Life.
Jeremy graduated cum laude from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a BSc. in Biomedical Engineering and is currently pursuing his M.Ed. in Exercise Physiology at Columbia University. In addition to his academic accolades, Jeremy is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS).
Prior to joining the team at Halevy Life, Jeremy completed a coaching internship at Cressey Sports Performance, where he coached both amateur and professional athletes, among whom were many professional MLB baseball players.
As an athlete, Jeremy has played baseball competitively for most of his life.