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The One Crunch You Should Be Doing- Kasey Esser

Freakin’ Awesome Exercise of the Day: Reverse Crunch

You’ve probably heard at this point that crunches (the kind where you lie on your back, put your hands on your neck, and fling your upper body off the floor) aren’t the best way to get sick abs.


And that’s pretty much true for 2 big reasons;

#1:  The finish position of the crunch described above strongly resembles the way many of us sit at our computers all day.  You don’t want to go to the gym and reinforce that type of hunchback posture (unless you want to be a hunchback, which is totally fine, do you).

#2:  Your abs are much more than your rectus abdominis (the six-pack muscle).  And the standard crunch fails to show love to those deeper stabilizers, such as the transverse abdominis and external obliques.  So while you will feel a burn, that’s pretty much all it’s giving you.  It’s not going to give you a core that’s strong enough to support your low-back when you are sitting at said desk or picking something up off the floor.

The One Crunch You Should Be Doing- Kasey Esser

The mainstream media has done a good job (that’s not something I thought I would say on this blog) about directing attention to the plank and how it is superior to the crunch for solving the 2 above issues.  Planking is great and I showed it love in this post, but I actually want to show love today to crunches…




The reverse crunch is often-overlooked, but it carries with it some powerful benefits that, combined with you putting down that left-over Halloween candy, will help you get that washboard stomach you and I both know you want…badly.


Why the Reverse Crunch is Glorious

As mentioned above, the standard crunch further ingrains bad postural habits.  The reverse crunch actually improves it by creating better stability in the lumbopelvic area.  For those who live in extension or an anterior tilt, this movement will train more of a posterior pelvic tilt and allow you to recruit your abs better.

When you go into a posterior pelvic tilt, the external obliques kick-on, allowing you to develop those deeper abdominal stabilizers, create better technique in other exercises, and, of course, get better-looking abs.

Not to mention, the reverse crunch can be progressed in many ways, keeping things interesting for a long time to come.

So without further ado, here is a video demonstrating how to perform the reverse crunch, along with demonstrations of how to progress this bad-boy.


A quick note on technique;

When you do a reverse crunch, you are not looking to get your legs up as high in the air as humanly possible!  You want to focus on curling the hips off the floor, which will focus you on recruiting the right muscles (e.g. those external obliques).  When the legs start getting crazy, you end up using your lower-back, defeating the purpose of the exercise.  You will see this demonstrated in a lot of magazines and whatnot, however…I prefer to keep things tighter and focus on using the correct muscles.

Also, exhaling is HUGE.  Exhale through the mouth before you initiate the “curl” to set your core and get your lumbar against the floor (haha that rhymed).  Inhale through your nose as you actually curl the hips, and then, on the way back down, exhale fully through the mouth to maintain that core position.

Be loud and proud about it!  Your abs will thank you.  Remember, extension is not your friend when it comes to developing the core and exhaling will keep you out of extension.

Also important to note…if you have back pain with flexion (e.g. bending over), the reverse crunch may not be a great option for you.  I guess it’s not 100% glorious…oh well.  

Once you feel comfortable with the basic reverse crunch, slow things down and try to “resist” letting your hips return fully to the floor.


Eccentric Reverse Crunch

And then you can move on to one of my favorites as of late, the Reverse Crunch to Deadbug.  Just when you thought the reverse crunch couldn’t get any better, dead bugs (the unsung badass of core training) gets thrown into the mix.

A.K.A.- It’s on!!!


Reverse Crunch to Deadbug

Try those out in your next workout and let me know what you think!


Dominate All Life,

Kasey, CSCS

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  • Jay Howard Ginsberg

    Because deuces force you to create a large amount of intra-abdominal pressure I would argue that they are much better than crunches. Thoughts?

    • kaseyesser

      I completely agree!!