If you're looking for a more effective abdominal workout, try the reverse crunch. Where traditional crunches only get you so far, the reverse crunch helps take your ab routine to the next level.
Why Strengthening Your Abs Is Important
Your abdominal muscles get a lot more work throughout the day than you might imagine. Nearly everything you do from sitting to standing, walking to jogging, engages the muscles in your midsection. So having strong abs is more important than just fitting into your jeans; having strong abs can help prevent back problems and make your daily activities easier.
Why Traditional Crunches Don't Work
You may have tried toning your abdominal muscles through standard sit-ups and crunches. This routine was probably taught to you by your gym teacher in the 8th grade, and involves you laying on your back and pulling your shoulders up off the floor. While these exercises engage your abdominal muscles, they may not get you the flat abs of your dreams.
Traditional crunches are ineffective for a few reasons. They only target one section of your abdominal muscles, and not the section responsible for pulling in and flattening your tummy. They can also lead to back pain, poor posture and shortened hip flexors. This is because when you lift up from the floor, you not only pull with your abs; you also pull with the hip flexors and sometimes the shoulders. So not only are you not putting as much energy into your abs as you should, you're doing harm to other areas of your body as well. This is why the reverse crunch, pulling up with your lower body, is so much more effective.
The Benefits of the Reverse Crunch
So you know that the traditional crunch doesn't work. Well, what makes the reverse crunch so much better? For starters, the only muscle group you engage in this exercise is your abs. No hips, no back, just the area you really want to target. This makes the reverse crunch much more effective right out of the gate.
The reverse crunch also targets the external obliques, the muscles on the sides of your tummy that are responsible for pulling the muscles in. So this exercise is going to get you those flat abs sooner.
In addition, the reverse crunch can also help to correct some posture problems. Not only are you keeping your back flat on the ground, you're tilting the pelvis as you contract the abs. This not only strengthens your lower abdominals, it can correct the inward curve of your spine. Since many women get a more pronounced curve of the lower back from pregnancy and the sitting done at a desk job, it's important to correct this to avoid back problems as you age.
How to do the Reverse Crunch
To get started with a reverse crunch, find a comfortable place to lay down, and if your abs are weak, find something to use as a counterweight, such as a dumbbell or medicine ball.
- Lay on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor.
- Focus on pushing your lower back flat to the ground. You should not be able to insert a hand between your back and the floor at any time during this exercise.
- If you are using a counterweight, pull your arms above your head and hold the weight there. This will keep upper body still and make the exercise easier until your abs are stronger.
- Pull your feet off the floor so that your thighs are perpendicular to the ground and your feet are close to your glutes.
- Tilting your pelvis, and keeping your back completely flat on the ground, contract your abs to pull your knees in toward your head.
- Lower your knees back to your starting pose and contract again.
- Make sure that your feet stay close to your glutes; don't let them come up in the air during this exercise.
As you get stronger, start using lighter counterweights, or no weights at all. If you've never done reverse type crunches before, start slowly and work your way up; this is a much more effective ab routine than you may be used to.
Incorporating the reverse crunch into your fitness routine will help you see results fast. Not only will your abs get stronger, you'll walk taller with better posture as well. Try the reverse crunch the next time you're hoping to kick your routine up a notch and see where it takes you.