Even though I’m not a “gym-going” person, I find it difficult to discuss exercise moves and routines. I was in this situation when “reverse crunches”, a term that I had just come across, appeared on my computer screen. I wasn’t sure how they differed from regular crunches or if I should do them. I also didn’t know if they were a pointless exercise that would be beneficial for my body. We all want to look and feel our best, so it’s important to find out if there are other benefits to an exercise. Is it good for back pain? Anxiety? Flexibility?
To get the facts, we spoke with a fitness expert. Reverse crunches are so powerful and have enough benefits that they have become a mainstay in my limited exercise program.
Continue reading to learn everything you need about reverse crunches, and why you should add them to your exercise routine.
What is a reverse crunch?
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Boncompagni says that the reverse crunch is a classic core strengthening move that targets lower abdominals. Reverse crunches work differently to regular crunches that have the feet on the ground and focus more on the upper abs. Instead, they are performed with the legs lifted off of the floor.
Reverse Crunches: Benefits
Boncompagni highlighted several key benefits from this core exercise.
They are focused on the lower abs.
Because they target lower abs which can be difficult to tone and strengthen, reverse crunches are a popular core exercise. Boncompagni says that they work the rectus abdominalis, Boncompagni adds, “which is the muscles in the front of your abs, what people often refer to the as your “six-pack muscles.” This exercise can be a great addition to your ab workout. Although you don’t have to worry about having chiseled abs you should be focusing on strengthening your core. This is crucial for optimal health, injury prevention and posture as well as movement efficiency.
These can help improve your posture.
Reverse crunches can also be used to activate your deep core muscles (transversus abdominis) which help you maintain a healthy posture when sitting for extended periods.
They can help you strengthen your mind-body connection.
Boncompagni explains that this move requires that you focus on the squeeze and work from the lower abs. I’m not only training my abs but I’m also training myself mentally, so I have a better mind-body connection.
They are safe for your neck, back, and neck.
One common complaint about standard crunches or abs exercises is their tendency to strain the neck. They can cause neck pain. Many people also make the error of flexing their neck and pulling on their neck too hard. Reverse crunches are safer for the spine and don’t require neck flexion.
They don’t need any equipment.
Reverse crunches can be spiced up with ankle weights and resistance bands. But the best thing about the exercise is its ability to be done anywhere with your body and the ground (though a mat is recommended). I support any exercise that doesn’t require a gym membership.
These help you feel more confident about your body.
Exercising can make us feel more confident in our bodies and help us feel stronger. Boncompagni believes that reverse crunches can do exactly this. She says, “I love the way exercises like these help me build a stronger relationship with my body. They truly make me feel more in my skin and more confident. It’s magical. It changes the way that I walk, how I hold myself and how I feel in my skin.
How do I properly complete them?
Boncompagni showed us how to do a perfect reverse crunch. You can do two to three sets of 20 reps.
Boncompagni advises that it is important to protect your back from the ground. Boncompagni suggests using a mat or bench with lots of cushioning support. Also, ensure your back is flat on the mat.
* Lay on your back, with your thighs parallel to the ground and your shins parallel. Your feet should be together and your hands should rest at the sides.
* Inhale and draw your belly button towards your spine. This will engage your lower abs.
* Lift your hips and butt off the ground and begin to tuck your knees towards your forehead.
* Lift your hips and butt a few inches above the ground. Hold the position for a full exhale and lower your legs back down to the original position.
What are the best times to expect results?
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Boncompagni says that it takes between three and a month to notice a change in your body or clothes fitting. Remember that nutrition is important in order to see results. However, it is more important than seeing results visually to start to feel the benefits from a strong core.
Boncompagni says that reverse crunches won’t be enough if you want to notice a difference in the shape of your abs. She suggests that reverse crunches should be combined with core exercises such as planks, pikes and running.
Are Reverse crunches good for my overall health?
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This move is more than just toning. Boncompagni says that while reverse crunches can be done by anyone, they are especially beneficial for those suffering from chronic back pain due to muscular imbalances or poor posture. Because so many people don’t get enough movement, they might be disengaging their abs while at work, which can lead to poor posture, back problems, and more vulnerability to injury.
However, if you have persistent pain in your back or hips while performing reverse crunches it is important to consult a physical therapist to correct any muscle imbalances.
Reverse Crunches Leveled Up
After mastering the basics of reverse crunches you can try one of many common variations such as raising your shoulders off the ground simultaneously. Boncompagni says that the key to all these variations is to slow down and not rely on momentum. “Whether you are lifting your shoulder blades off of the ground with each rep or not, the magic happens when the focus is on the lower abs to lift your legs and hips.
This version will test your core, including your hip flexors and lower back.
* Place your hands on your hips and sit on a mat or bench.
* Engage your abs while you lean back so that your back is at 45 degrees to the ground.
* Inhale with your lower abdominals and bring your knees towards your chest. Hold for at least one full breath.
* Exhale and return your legs to their original position.
* Perform 15 repetitions.
With Resistance Band
This variation increases the intensity of the exercise by adding resistance.
Attach a resistance band around each ankle.
Place your body so that tension is on the band.
* Do the reverse crunch as normal, pulling in a controlled way against the resistance band.
* Perform 12-15 reps.
This variation will target your obliques for a more comprehensive core exercise.
* Draw your knees up and bend your hips so your left thigh rests on top of your right.
* Return to the beginning position
* Perform 12-15 reps and then switch sides.