You can probably list a million reasons why you not-so-secretly hate crunches and sit ups. To start with, it’s too easy to strain the neck, slump your shoulders, and hunch your back. Then there’s the fact that your spine grinds uncomfortably against the floor every time you descend back to the ground. It’s no wonder you dread this exercise at the end of every fitness class.
The reverse crunch, however, is not only more comfortable for the neck and back, but it’s also arguably more effective at working the core muscles because it uses a greater range of motion.
Here’s what makes reverse crunches so much better: The move begins on your back, and only your legs move. Your back stays nice and steady on the floor—which means no more neck and spinal pain.
How to Do Reverse Crunches
Start on your back with your arms lying flat at your sides for stability. Using your core muscles, lift your legs off the ground and bring the knees toward the chest. The legs should stay relatively straight. As your legs come toward your chest, your hips should lift off the ground. Then, lower your legs back toward the ground, but don’t let the feet touch the floor.
All the movement should happen in your lower body, but use your upper body for strength and stability. Your palms should be facing the floor, and your head should never lift the ground.
If this movement is too challenging, you can bend your knees, which will take some of the strain off the core muscles.
Once you’ve mastered how to do reverse crunches perfectly, try it out in this 9-minute core workout for beginners.