Reverse Crunch

Start Position
End Position

Starting position:

  1. Lie flat on your back with knees bent at a 90-degree angle with lower legs parallel to the floor.
  2. Place arms to your side, palms facing downward. Your hands’ contact with the floor will help leverage the movement while maintaining balance throughout the movement.

Upward movement/concentric phase:

  1. Keeping the knees bent, flex the hips bring your knees towards your upper body.
  2. Your lower and middle back will be lifted off the floor at the end of the upward phase.

Downward movement/eccentric phase:

    1. In a controlled fashion, slowly extend hips, returning back to the starting position with knees bent.
In a controlled fashion, slowly extend hips, returning back to the starting position with knees bent. Do not hold your breath. Exhale during the concentric phase and inhale during the eccentric phase.


Exercise Data

  • Primary Muscles: Rectus abdominis
  • Synergists: External oblique, internal oblique
  • Stabilizers: Transverse abdominis
  • Type: Strength, hypertrophy, muscular endurance
  • Mechanics: Trunk flexion
  • Equipment: Floor mat
  • Lever: 1st class lever
  • Level: Beginner to advanced
  • FAQ'S & FACTS ABOUT Reverse Crunch

    What Is A Reverse Crunch?

    A reverse crunch is an exercise, which involves the abdominal muscles, primarily the rectus abdominis. This exercise is performed lying on the floor or exercise mat on your back. The concentric portion of the exercise is flexion of the vertebral column, lifting your lower back off of the floor. The eccentric portion is extension of the vertebral column, which involves the descent of the body back to the floor.

    The purpose of reverse crunches is to strengthen the abdominal muscles while promoting the hypertrophy (increases in size) of this muscle group.

    Why Do A Reverse Crunch?

    Reverse crunches stress the fibers of the lower region of the rectus abdominis in the beginning phase as the lower legs are suspended in the air with knees bent. Therefore, V-ups contribute to improving the aesthetics of the lower abdominal area. As the legs are raised, the trunk begins to flex, further activating the rectus abdominis. Promoting hypertrophy of the abdominal muscles with trunk flexion helps define the “6-pack” of the rectus abdominis. Strengthening the abdominal muscles offers protective effects for the lower back as the abdominals play a role in stabilizing the torso. Stronger abdominals also complement exercise and sports performance as they can contribute to biomechanical efficiency during physical activity and exercise.

    Anatomy Of A Reverse Crunch

    The abdominal wall is made up of broad, flat sheet-like muscles that are layered. The rectus abdominis is a vertical muscle that extends from the pubic crest and symphysis (at the pelvis) to the rib cage (xiphoid process and costal cartilages of ribs 5-7). The rectus abdominis is segmented by three tendinous intersections that run horizontally across the rectus abdominis. This tendon outlines the “6-pack” of the rectus abdominis along with the linea alba, a tendinous seam that runs down vertically, dividing the “6-pack” in half.

    The oblique muscles assist the rectus abdominis with flexion of the vertebral column. The external oblique muscle runs downward and medially and forms the inguinal ligament of the groin area. Its origin is at the outer surfaces of the lower eight ribs and it inserts into the linea alba via a broad aponeurosis. Some of the fibers of the external oblique insert into the pubic crest and iliac crest.

    The internal oblique, as its name suggests, is located below the superficial external oblique. Its fibers run in an upward and medial direction. Its origin is located at lumbar fascia, iliac crest and inguinal ligament. Its insertion is located at the linea alba, the pubic crest and the last three or four ribs.

    The transverse abdominis is the deepest muscle of the abdominal wall with fibers running horizontally. This stabilizing muscle compresses the abdominal contents. Its origin is located at the inguinal ligament, lumbar fascia, iliac crest and the cartilage of the last six ribs. It inserts at the linea alba and the pubic crest.

    Variations Of A Reverse Crunch

    Reverse crunches with hip thrusts.

    How To Improve Your Reverse Crunches

    The abdominal muscles are working all day, every day, when you are physically active. Therefore, a greater overload stimulus is required to stimulate growth of the abdominals when isolating them during exercise.

    You may increase the intensity of the V-Ups by taking shorter rest periods (e.g. 30 seconds) between sets, holding the peak of the concentric contraction/upward phase for multiple seconds until volitional failure at the end of a set, and/or adding resistance at the ankles (e.g. cable resistance).

    You may also incorporate hip thrusts in the movement of reverse crunches. Instead of bringing knees towards upper body, straighten legs and drive heels straight up, pointing towards the ceiling. This will left your rear-end off of the mat.

    Incorporating various abdominal exercises complements the performance of abdominal crunches, especially as you advance in exercise difficulty (e.g. V-ups, hanging leg raises).

    Emphasis on eccentric contractions, prolonging the descent phase back to the mat, may also be incorporated with an abdominal training program focused on increasing strength. This should be implemented accordingly and with adequate muscle recovery as eccentric contractions cause substantial damage to muscle tissue and/or delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).

    Strategically varying your intensity, rest times and volume (number of repetitions in a set) will optimize abdominal development with time.

    Common Mistakes When Doing Reverse Crunches

    Performing this exercise with the use of momentum minimizes the activation of the rectus abdominis, therefore, it is important to control the movement and emphasize a controlled descent during the eccentric phase.

    When incorporating abdominal training into your exercise regimen it is important to evaluate what other exercises you are doing in that training session. For example, it may not be best to train abdominals on the same day as performing deadlifts and squats as those exercises fatigue the abdominals substantially. Training abdominals before or after a training session that involves smaller muscle groups (e.g. calves, biceps, triceps) may be suitable, as it will not interfere with the quality of the overall training session.

    Injuries Or Ailments & Their Effects Regarding Reverse Crunches

    While performing abdominal exercises with added resistance can improve strength gains, increasing the weight beyond the lifter’s capacity can result in injury to the abdominal tissue.