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January 13, 2022 8 min read

The reverse sit-up, also known as a reverse crunch, is a challenging core exercise that primarily focuses on your rectus abdominis, which is the muscle in your abdomen that mostly influences the look of your six-pack. In this article, we’ll look at some of the best ways of doing reverse sit ups and how to get the most abdominal benefits out of the exercises.

Getting Started With Reverse Sit-Ups

Many personal trainers recommend reverse sit-ups if you want to develop six-pack abs as an impressive muscle group. Reverse sit-ups can challenge your abdominal muscles like few other exercises can. Even if you have been achieving good results with traditional sit-ups, you can still benefit from switching up your workout routine now and then. 

Reverse sit-ups are simple exercises to learn, and this makes them ideal for beginners and experienced gym goers alike. As you get stronger, you can slowly increase the number of reps and sets to keep making the exercise more challenging. Read on to learn more about some of the benefits of a reverse crunch, how to do them correctly, and a few other effective variations. 

Benefits of Reverse Sit-Ups

A reverse sit up or reverse crunch can offer you many of the same benefits you will get from abdominal crunches. However, because your neck and most of your back remain on the ground, the exercise is easier on your spine. Reverse crunches are easy to set up because all you need is your own bodyweight. That means you can do the exercises in a home gym or wherever and whenever you want. Some of the main benefits of a reverse crunch include the following:

  • Strengthening your rectus abdominis:  The reverse crunch primarily works your rectus abdominis or six-pack. The main function of this muscle is to flex your trunk and spine. Working the lower abdominal muscles is more difficult than the upper abs because stored fat is harder to burn in the lower abs. It also takes more time for those muscles to be visible. Keep in mind that reverse crunches also activate your transverse abdominis, the deep muscle below your abdominals, and your external obliques.
  • Taking strain off your neck: You might have discovered that whenever you are doing sit-ups and crunches, it soon becomes tempting to try to pull your neck forward with your arms. The reverse crunch keeps your neck out of a vulnerable position and your head flat on the ground. 
  • Less stress on your back than crunches: Reducing how far your spine bends forward during crunches reduces the force on your spinal discs. Since reverse crunches flex your spine less than traditional crunches, they are easier on your back. Some people risk injuries by performing sit-ups with the wrong form. Traditional sit-ups may cause neck or back discomfort. Performing reverse crunches will allow your spine a more comfortable position, either on the floor or from a hanging position. You will also use your legs for all the exercises which will ensure the focus shifts towards the lower part of your torso.

Some Common Mistakes

Relying on these types of exercises to strengthen your obliques can be a mistake. You will soon find that the reverse crunch does not target your obliques nearly as much as some of the other core exercises. Your obliques, the two layers of muscle on either side of your core that help you twist and bend your trunk, are better trained with other exercises. 

Many recent athletic trends have included a gradual move away from isolated core training for improving athletic performance. A lot of the most modern techniques in gyms today tend to focus a bit more on performing  integrated movements that more closely replicate some of your daily activities. 

If you are doing your strength training mostly to improve your overall athletic performance, you may want to also include a wider range of dynamic core exercises in your workout program. For example, golfers may want to include rotational medicine ball throws to help benefit their golf swing. Reverse crunches are examples of exercises that might more closely replicate movements in your particular life, but there are certainly lots of others too. 

How to Do Reverse Sit-ups (Form)

  1. Lie face-up on a mat or another type of soft surface with your knees bent at 90 degrees and your feet flat on the floor. 
  2. Keep your arms near your sides and your palms down. 
  3. Exhale and engage your core. 
  4. Lift your feet off the ground and raise your thighs until they are vertical. 
  5. Keep your knees bent at 90 degrees throughout the movement. 
  6. Tuck your knees toward your face as far as you can comfortably go without lifting your mid-back from the mat. Your hips and lower back should lift off the ground. Hold the position for a moment and then slowly lower your feet back toward the floor until they reach the ground. 
  7. Repeat for at least 10 repetitions. Do one set to start, and slowly increase the number of reps and sets as you get stronger.

Other Reverse Sit-up / Crunch Variations 

There are quite a few other variations of the reverse crunch that can help you build up your core strength even more and also be helpful when you are trying to develop your six-pack. Here are three examples: 

Stability Ball Crunch 

The stability ball crunch adds a further stability challenge to your basic crunch movement. During this exercise, rest your fingertips gently behind your head to help you resist the temptation to pull your head forward.

  1. Lie down with a stability ball under your mid-back and your feet flat on the floor. Select a ball that allows you to keep your thighs parallel to the ground and your knees at a 90-degree angle. 
  2. With your hands behind your head, crunch your trunk upward. 
  3. Hold the position for a moment at the top of the movement and return to the starting position. 
  4. Repeat for at least 10 reps, and slowly increase the reps and sets as you gain core strength. 

Bicycle Crunch 

The bicycle crunch is another very good way to activate your abs as well as your harder to reach oblique muscles on the side of your body, which are very helpful when you are trying to rotate your trunk. 

  1. Lie on your back with one knee tucked toward your chest and the other knee extended straight in front of you. 
  2. Put your hands on the back of your head. 
  3. Switch the position of your feet while you bring your opposite elbow to your front knee.
  4. Keep switching positions for at least 10 reps on each side. Do one set to start and slowly increase the number of reps and sets as the exercise becomes easier. 
  5. Keep your hands lightly touching the back of your head to avoid pulling your head forward. 

Oblique Crunch 

The oblique crunch is another variation of the crunch that targets your obliques. Make sure the bench you select is solid and stable before starting so that it does not tip over. 

  1. Lie on the bench so that your right hip is in contact with the top of it, your right foot is under the bench, and your left leg is bent comfortably on top. 
  2. Put your right hand on your chest and your left hand behind your head. 
  3. Crunch your trunk forward as far as you comfortably can while using your foot beneath the bench for balance. 
  4. Pause for a moment when you reach the top of the movement and then slowly return to the starting position. 
  5. Repeat for at least 10 reps on each side. You can slowly add more reps and sets as the exercise becomes easier to do. 

How to Train Safely and Avoid Injury 

If you have a previous or pre-existing health condition, always consult a physician before beginning an exercise program. You can simply modify any of the above exercises to obtain the optimal results based on your individual needs. Try to perform all of the exercises above slowly and methodically. Your hips and lower back should come off the mat when you tuck forward, but your mid-back should stay in contact with the mat. Push into the ground with your hands to help you balance.

Performing the exercises too quickly can quickly lead to back pain, strained muscles, and even sometimes to other conditions that might permanently prevent you from doing any type of training at all. Always focus on achieving the proper form for all of the exercises. When compared with regular sit-ups, reverse crunches can actually make you feel more relaxed, especially in the spine and neck area. Make sure you stretch before every exercise and include leg stretching since you will be using your legs for the lower part of your abs routine.

A good idea is to lie on a straight surface and raise your legs either bent or straight, according to your strength level. You should not use your hands for any help but rather to stabilize your torso and prevent side movement. Stop if you feel pain or discomfort in your back or anywhere else.

You should feel a burning sensation in your abdominals, but never a sharp pain. If you are interested in learning a little more about how many reps you should ideally be doing,  take a look at some of this helpful advice.

If you feel any sharp pain while performing reverse crunches, stop immediately. If you are new to fitness, have an injury, or are still not sure how to do a reverse crunch with good form, you may want to work with a certified personal trainer to start.

Bringing it All Together

The reverse crunch is a simple core exercise that can help you strengthen your abdominals. It is easier on your back than traditional crunches and sit-ups because your spine does not flex as much. Doing these exercises can improve your physique because a tight and strong core will make your waist look smaller which can make your shoulders seem broader and your chest seem bigger. 

A stable body means a stronger body. Reverse crunches can reduce the risk of injury since strong core muscles are known to help with lower back issues. Also, they can improve your regular posture. By activating your core, glutes, and lower back muscles, cable crunch exercises can help you correct improper posture in your upper body as you build up abdominal strength, which also stabilizes the rest of the body. Always use the proper exercise technique to maximize the safety and effectiveness of your exercise program. 

Reverse crunches will almost certainly help you create high levels of abdominal hypertrophy and directly train your rectus abdominus.

If you plan to do these types of workouts correctly on a consistent basis, you will usually experience a very deep abdominal burn and this means that you will be focusing mostly on all of the muscles that can help you build an impressive six-pack with high visual impact.

One of the best ab exercises that you can also include with reverse crunches is the plank. It is an isometric exercise with no change in the angle requirements, and so it targets the inner abdominals. The exercise should help you focus and pull your abs towards your spine and hold them in that position for a few seconds. This ab workout will certainly improve your abs but it will also strengthen your spine muscles. 

Building a Solid Supplement Plan

Many people think that dropping belly fat is the best way to get a noticeable six-pack, which can often be true, but adding some more depth to your abs will help as well. If you are trying to lose body fat, the  Ultimate Shred Stack was formulated to do just that.

This stack delivers rapid results for anybody seeking extreme conditioning and sharpness. Not only does it suppress your appetite but it also combats naturally occurring hormones while increasing your fat loss and building muscle mass.

Do a bit of research into which type of diet might be best for your specific needs and for designing a long-term plan that includes plenty of exercise and dietary supplements. There are so many different types of diets that you might need to choose one that matches your goals of either  bulking your body up a lot more, or shredding body fat and slimming down more.