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Reverse Crunch Exercise Guide (Step-by-Step)

Updated: Oct 26, 2021

Muscles Worked: Abdominals

Equipment Needed: None / Bodyweight

Difficulty: Intermediate

The reverse crunch is a useful exercise to include in your ab workouts. Make sure you do this exercise on a soft surface, such as a soft mat or a rubber floor, to avoid injury.

Throughout this exercise, try to keep your upper body as motionless as possible and contract your abdominal muscles.

Table of Contents:

the reverse crunch exercise

Make sure to avoid the following mistakes:

  • Too quick movement of your legs.

  • Drooping of your legs.

How to Do the Reverse Crunch

Below is a video demonstrating how to do the reverse crunch.

  1. To begin, lay flat on your back with your legs extended and your toes pointed upward, with your head towards the ceiling. From head to toe, your body should be in a single straight line.

  2. Your arms should be placed down alongside your body, under your hips, or behind your head, whatever feels most comfortable for you.

  3. You should bend your knees and raise them if you're doing the conventional reverse crunch.

  4. Activate your abs and bring your knees closer to your head while keeping your upper body motionless.

  5. As your knees and hips reach your upper body region, lift them up to your chest and shoulders.

  6. Restore your legs to their original positions on the floor.

  7. Repetition until you have completed the required number of repetitions.

  8. The conventional bent knees reverse crunch variant is the simpler of the two variations. The straight leg reverse crunch variation is the more difficult.

Reverse Crunch Variations

There are two major variations of this exercise, as follows.

Although there are many variations to the classic reverse abs crunch, the straight leg reverse crunch is the most popular.

The reverse crunch with a leg lift is a more advanced version of the crunch.

Straight Leg Reverse Crunch

The straight leg reverse crunch is a more difficult variant of the reverse crunch than the squat reverse crunch.

straight leg reverse crunch demonstration

It is basically the same exercise as the conventional reverse crunch, with the exception that the legs are kept straight. The exercise will be considerably more difficult to execute as a result.

Reverse Crunch with Leg Lift

Another variant of the reverse crunch is the reverse crunch with leg lower, which is a more advanced variation of the reverse crunch.

reverse crunch leg lift demonstration

Essentially, you do the reverse crunch as normal, but with the addition of a hip extension. You can either do this variation with straight legs or with bent knees, it is your preference.

Here's how to do it (step-by-step):

  1. To begin, lie face up in a comfortable position with your legs straight up in the air, and arms flat at the sides of your body, forming a “L” shape with your body.

  2. To do this, contract your abs and raise your hips straight up, then gently drop them back down in a controlled way.

  3. Continue to lower your legs until they're only a few inches over the ground, all while maintaining your legs completely straight.

  4. Rep the movement by bringing your legs back to their initial position.

  5. Continue until you have completed the required number of repetitions.

How to Make It Easier

There are a few ways to make the reverse crunch easier. The most effective method sis described below.

  • Making the reverse crunch easier may be accomplished by bending your knees more; the more you bend your knees, the easier it becomes.

  • Going slightly faster will reduce time under tension, allowing you to do more reps, making it easier.

  • Doing fewer reps.

As you progress with this exercise, you may want to start including ways to make this exercise harder, as shown below.

How to Make it Harder

There are a variety of methods to make the reverse crunch exercise more difficult. The following are the most effective methods.

  • Variants of this exercise, such as the reverse crunch with the leg lift (shown further up), may make the exercise more difficult to complete.

  • Maintaining straight legs will make this exercise harder, the straighter your legs, the more difficult it will be.

  • It is also possible to make the exercise more difficult by doing additional repetitions.

  • Going slower will increase time under tension, making the exercise more difficult to do.

If you master the reverse crunch, you can also experiment with adding small and light ankle weights.

Muscles' Worked By the Reverse Crunch

The following are the main muscles that are engaged during the reverse crunch exercise.

  • Rectus abdominis

  • Obliques

  • Quadriceps

muscles worked by the reverse crunch exercise

The reverse crunch also engages a variety of minor muscles that are important for stability, such as the following.

  • Additional arm muscles

  • Additional leg muscles

  • Additional upper and lower body muscles

Other minor, underlying, and stabilising muscles may also be activated during this exercise.

The different variations of the reverse crunch may target and activate different muscles than the conventional version of the exercise.

Benefits of the Reverse Crunch

There are a multitude of benefits of the reverse crunch. A reverse crunch is a complex exercise that involves several joints and muscle groups (a compound exercise).

It has multiple benefits, such as the following.

  • This exercise helps to strengthen your rectus abdominis muscles. The reverse crunch is most effective in toning and strengthening the rectus abdominis, often known as the "six-pack". This muscle's main purpose is to flex the lower body and spine, which it does well.

  • It also works on other core muscles. Besides your abdominal muscles, reverse crunches also work your transverse abdominis, which is a deep muscle underneath your abdominals, as well as your obliques, among many other minor, underlying, and stabilising muscles.

  • They're easy to do. When doing reverse crunches, all you need is your own bodyweight and a small open area. This implies that you may carry them out anywhere and whenever you choose. Almost anyone can do the reverse crunch.

  • It relieves the pressure on your neck. When doing sit-ups and crunches, individuals often use their hands to move their neck forward and back. Your head remains level on the ground and your neck is not put in a dangerous position when doing a reverse crunch.

  • Crunches are less demanding on your back. It has been shown that decreasing the amount of time your spine bends forward during crunches lowers the strain on your spine. Because reverse crunches bend your spine less than conventional crunches do, they're considered to be less demanding on your back than traditional crunches. (1)

What Are the Drawbacks?

Unlike some other core exercises, the reverse crunch does not target your obliques as much as they should.

You have two layers of muscle on each side of your core that help you twist and bend your lower body, called obliques.

There has been a movement away from isolated core exercises; instead, there is a greater focus on executing compound exercises that are more closely related to athletic movements.

It is possible that you may want to incorporate dynamic core exercises in your programme if you are concentrating on strength training or a specific type of training.

These are workouts that more closely resemble the motions you would do when participating in your sport.

For example, a golfer may want to include rotating medicine ball tosses into his or her training regimen to assist their golfing swing.

Essentially, the reverse crunch is not an all-encompassing exercise and should be added to other abs exercises.

Other than that, the reverse crunch is a great exercise to add to your abs workouts.

billy white

Written by Billy White

Billy White is a qualified Kinesiologist and Personal Trainer. He is an aspiring bodybuilder, fitness enthusiast, and health and fitness researcher.

He has multiple years of experience within the fitness, bodybuilding and health space. He is committed to providing the highest-quality information.


Further Reading



This section contains links to research, studies, and sources of information for this article, as well as authors, contributors, etc. All sources, along with the article and facts, are subjected to a series of quality, reliability, and relevance checks.

Real Muscle primarily uses high-quality sources, such as peer-reviewed publications, to back up the information in our articles. To understand more about how we fact-check and keep our information accurate, dependable, and trustworthy, see about us and our editing process.

This evidence-based exercise guide features 1 reference, listed below.

1. Schoenfeld, Brad & Kolber, Morey. Abdominal Crunches Are/Are Not a Safe and Effective Exercise. Strength and Conditioning Journal. (2016) ✔

Citations with a tick indicate the information is from a trusted source.


The information provided in this article is not intended to replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the guidance of a physician or other competent professional before following advice or taking any supplement. See our terms and conditions.


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