Typical reverse crunches suck!
The reason they suck is that for half of the movement the weighted resistance falls off.
So I’m going to teach you a form of the reverse crunch (or weighted lying leg/hip raise) that generates resistance through 100% of the range of movement.
The purpose of reverse crunches is to work the lower abs a little more.
Note that you cannot ISOLATE the lower abs with any movement. However, we can place a little more emphasis on them with exercises like these.
So if you want FULLY developed abs, watch and read below.
Lying on a bench, have your lower legs hang off the edge.
Place a dumbbell between your feet.
Grab the sides of the bench for support.
Raise the legs by flexing the hips. There should be a bend at the knees throughout.
The bend should reach a 90 degree angle at the top of the rep.
The top of the rep is when the upper legs are perpendicular to the floor.
The typical form for reverse crunches is to bring the knees up to the chest. However, going past the point I have recommended means that the resistance falls off and the exercise becomes ineffective.
The form I am recommending also involves more range of motion at the bottom. This helps to really involve the lower abs more than traditional reverse crunches.
If ever the words, ‘FULL MUSCULAR CONTROL‘ are relevant, it’s when training the abs. Make sure the abs are doing the work on both the positive and negative parts of the rep. If this means lightening the weight, do it.
It should take 1-2 seconds to lift, and 2 seconds to lower the weight.
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Mark, is this any different from doing straight leg raises, is this safer? just asking because I know that straight leg supine lifts are being taken out of the gym due to the fact that you are actually targeting your hip flexors (iliopsoas muscles) which attach to your lumber spine and if you have a weak core it creates Lordossis and can create low back strain. The reason why you feel your abs working is cause they are isometrically contracting through the range of motion, as in bracing the spine to help protect it. I know with hanging leg raise the same thing happens, its only when you get to the very top of the movement when your bum lifts of the back rest (very small movement) that your abs go from isometric contraction to a slight eccentric contraction. Please educate me on this. Perhaps the fact that your legs are hanging off the bench removes the stress on the lumbar spine?
yeah, my chiropractor told me a similar thing. something along the lines of lifting both feet while your body is flat isn’t ‘biomechanically *something*; forgot what the word was. anyone ever get hurt doing this though?
Nice addition there. I don’t see your hips raising at any part of the movement, so the abs are never crunched, which makes me think this excercise mainly hits the hip flexors, NOT the abs.
What say you?
Hey Mark I’m curious to know what your current diet plan consists of duing the week on MANS
have you tried doing this with your hips just over the end of the bench, this method you get more of a stretch in the abs, if you want a challenge this will do it…..give it a go and let me know what you think…..
Yeah, this is a problem faced by me and almost all who do Reverse Crunches or hanging Leg Raises. How do we ensure that the core and ab muscles get affected, and not simply pull up with the hip flexors?
There are no such things as “lower” or “upper” abs. it is a grouping of muscles and as such, you cannot work ONE section of a full muscle.
It is disturbing when “experts” continually refer to these as if they are separate.
Grab an anatomy book. Find “upper” abs? Of course not.
@Rob. The only thing that’s disturbing is when people comment on an article without reading the whole thing. I clearly state, “Note that you cannot ISOLATE the lower abs with any movement. However, we can place a little more emphasis on them with exercises like these.” The reason you can’t isolate them is because they aren’t a separate muscle group. Referring to ‘upper’ and ‘lower’ isn’t labeling them as separate muscle groups in the slightest. But you can emphasize upper or lower sections of that 1 muscle group e.g. any flexion of the hips will involve the lower section more.
Mark, if I am doing captain’s chair weighted leg lifts religiously (read; rep to failure, 1 rep max sometimes, 2 minute rests between 4-8 sets of 4-12 reps) do I need to add this new exercise? Does it do anything I’m not doing already?
Well during the captain’s chair the resistance doesn’t fall off, so you can lift the butt off the pad and bring the knees up as high as you can. So they are a little different. This is effective in the lower range, the chair is effective in the upper range (not much resistance in the lower range).
I like both exercises and interchange them.
For everyone else with questions, the best advice I can give is to try them out and see for yourself in terms of feeling the resistance in the lower section of the abs and/or for any possible discomfort. If there is discomfort, check your form against mine. If there’s still discomfort, switch this exercise for another in the exercise bank.