Fitness

Unicorn-status joys in life: Grabbing the last treadmill at the gym, snagging a cult-fav lip kit in the millisecond before the collection sells out, and finding a core move that *actually* works those impossible-to-hit lower abs.

“The reverse crunch is pretty much the perfect core exercise as it works to build strength and stabilisation while working a full range of motion, and has the big payoff of shredded abs and the coveted six pack,” says Corey Phelps, a certified personal trainer and founder of the online platform Cultivate365.

How To Do A Reverse Crunch

How to: Lie on your back, arms by your side with palms facing down to help create balance needed for the lift. Bend your knees at 90 degrees and lift your feet up so your thighs are perpendicular to the floor. Pressing into your palms and engaging your core, lift your hips off the floor as you crunch your knees toward your chest. Hold the crunch at the top of the movement, then begin to lower your hips, controlling the descent and not letting your back arch off the ground. That’s one rep.

Form tips: The reverse crunch can also be performed on a bench with your arms overhead holding onto the bench (it’s not easier or harder, just different, Phelps adds). And if the baseline move is too difficult, start by just lifting the tail bone an inch or two off the ground rather than rolling up into the full expression of the exercise, she advises.

Reps/sets you should do to see results: Aim for three sets of 8 to 10 reps, adding more reps, resistance, or time under tension as your core gets stronger.

READ MORE: The 10-Minute Abs Workout That Will Totally Transform Your Abs

Benefits Of Reverse Crunch

Yes, the reverse crunch is clutch for toning those lower abs. But beyond that, this move works the entire rectus abdominis region—the large muscle group that runs down the middle of your abdomen, from the bottom of the rib cage to the top of the pelvis. “Often referred to as the infamous six pack,” Phelps says.

Reverse crunches also engage your obliques and transverse abdominals—the muscles on the side of your sick pack, and the deep core muscle in charge of stabilising the spine and core, respectively.

Not only are you working the real strengtheners, but you’re also building real strength: “When you perform a rep slowly and in control like you do here, your muscles work at high intensity for the entire duration of the movement—an essential element to building muscle,” she adds. And the strength you build in your core helps stabilise your body and avoid injury during more complex movements like deadlifts and loaded squats.

Make Reverse Crunch Part Of Your Workout

“Compared to other core exercises, the reverse crunch is guaranteed to torch your core without having to do a ton of reps. You get a significant bang for your efforts,” Phelps says. She suggests adding it to your workout regime once a week during a core circuit—especially pairing it with other moves that focus on stability and strength like planks and side planks.

Skip it during a HIIT routine. “To reap the full rewards of the movement, you want to move slow and with precise execution—which is hard to do moving at a high intensity,” she explains.

If a classic reverse crunch isn’t quite challenging enough, do the move on a decline bench; or place a foam roller behind your knees and squeeze with the calves and thighs, then lift, to deepen abdominal engagement.

Most important: Focus on the quality of the movement over quantity. So, yes, you should feel a burn.

This article was originally published on www.womenshealthmag.com 

READ MORE ON: Fitness Fitness Advice

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