Whether you’re a fitness junkie or someone who abandoned all forms of exercise since gym class, you know that crunches are part of every kind of workout no matter what your target goal is.
They have different variations that focus on different parts of the body, and you can do them in any place where you can lie comfortably, whether you have gym equipment or not.
If you’re reading this, chances are you’re trying to get fit and get the most out of your workouts, which is where vertical leg crunches come in.
They are the perfect upgrade from basic crunches that challenge your body enough to show results and fitness.
What Are Leg Crunches?
A leg crunch, or vertical crunch, is an exercise that focuses on abdominal muscles and is almost the same as regular ones.
The variation of vertical leg crunches is in you reaching for your legs that are lifted at a 90-degree angle.
Benefits of Leg Crunches
Before we get into how to do vertical leg crunches, we need to understand the point of why we do them.
Abs and Core
Vertical leg crunches work on the rectus abdominis, which is your front ab muscles.
They also strengthen the transverse abdominis, a muscular sheet that exists on the lateral sides of the abdominal wall, front to back.
Your external and internal obliques, which are located on both sides of the rectus abdominis, are also targeted.
Furthermore, a vertical leg crunch activates your core muscles.
Legs and Hips
Due to the legs’ elevation, we get the group of muscles called hip flexors engaged.
These muscles help us move and do any physical activity with ease, so taking care of them is essential to prevent future problems. You will also feel your hamstrings work.
The act of flattening or pressing your lower back to the ground, which is the correct form, helps strengthen your lower back extensors and prevent problems to the area.
How Do You Do Leg Crunches at Home?
The only thing you need for vertical leg crunches is a yoga mat or any flat surface comfortable enough for you to lie on because hard surfaces can hurt your back.
Your starting position for a vertical leg crunch is lying completely flat on the ground with your whole body extended and your toes pointed.
Fold your hands behind your head, raise your legs perpendicular to the floor, and squeeze together.
Bend your knees slightly as a modification if you can’t keep your legs completely straight up. Also, make sure you don’t round or curve your back.
Contract your core muscles and keep them tight. Then, slowly raise your upper body to reach your legs.
Don’t jerk yourself up quickly as this may cause muscle cramp and will deem the whole exercise ineffective. Hold in this position and come down to repeat.
Focus your attention too on keeping your legs straight as much as possible when you move up and down.
What Is the Reverse Crunch?
This crunch exercise is a famous go-to for fitness lovers and six-pack seekers because it focuses on the lower abdomen, the whole rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, spine, and core.
So, how is it different in practice from the basic crunch and vertical leg crunch exercise? The starting position is also lying flat on your back but with arms placed flat on each side for balance.
Next, raise your feet, bend your knees at a 90-degree angle from the ground, and contract your core muscles.
Then, lift your knees up to your chest slowly and hold for a second or two, ensuring that your back stays flat. Finally, lower your legs slowly and repeat.
What Are Vertical Leg Lifts?
They are the perfect way to work on your abdominal muscles and legs without potentially harming your spine.
You start in a lying position like with the workouts above, keeping your eyes glued to the ceiling throughout the whole thing to avoid neck strain and placing your arms straight on each side for stability.
Then, contract your ab muscles. Next, slowly start raising your legs so that your thighs are at a 90-degree angle with the ground, and your calves are parallel to it.
Finally, straighten your legs gradually until they are truly vertical and keep your toes pointed. Don’t forget to move them down in a steady non-jerky motion.
We hope we helped you understand how to do vertical leg crunches, reverse crunches, vertical leg lifts, and the benefits of each.
Regardless of which workout you choose, always engage the targeted muscles and void jerky movements to really benefit from your hard work, and avoid possible injury.
Stay safe, and keep on crunching!
Andreea is a fitness enthusiast with a keen interest in nutrition. She has gone from 98Kg to 70Kg through relentless hard work and getting her nutrition right with the help of a personal trainer.
She writes articles to empower anyone to take control and not let go of their mental and physical health.