Vertical Leg Crunch

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Abdominal Exercise Instructions: How to Perform the Vertical Leg Crunch

Vertical Leg Crunch (Straight-Leg Crunch) Exercise Guide

Vertical leg crunch (straight-leg crunch) isolates the upper abs, the first step to obtaining that coveted six-pack. The upper abs are worked mainly through situps and crunches. Crunches are often more popular than full situps, because you use less of the hip flexors.

This exercise is much like the traditional (basic) abdominal crunch. The only main difference is that your legs are straight up in the air. Also, the range of motion is slightly bigger because the upper back comes higher off the ground. This, of course, adds intensity to the exercise by making your abdomen work harder.

To reduce difficulty, this exercise can also be done with your lower legs resting on a chair or weight bench. To make this exercise more difficult, hold a weight plate on your chest.

Exercise Instructions

STARTING POSITION (SETUP). Lie on your back and extend your legs straight up. You can cross your feet at the ankles. Keep your knees slightly bent. Put your hands loosely behind your head or you can cross your arms on your chest.

Vertical Leg Crunch

Vertical Leg Crunch

ACTION (MOVEMENT). Contract your abdominals and slowly raise your head, shoulders, and upper back at about 30-degree angle. Hold this position for a second before slowly lowering back to the starting position (but do not touch your shoulders to the floor). Be aware of not lifting with your hands or leading with your head.

Exercise Key Points

  • As you repeat this exercise make sure that your lower spine is completely pressed on the floor and that  your legs are kept steady.
  • Lift your shoulder blades and raise your upper body while contracting your ab muscles to reach your chest. Do not move your legs while you lift your chest.
  • Slowly curl up without swinging your body weight with the legs. Do not allow your body to “crash” back down.
  • The exercise should comprise mostly of lifting the shoulders off of the floor without moving the head or neck to motion the body.

Exercise Variation

Vertical Leg Crunch With Arms Extended (Toe Touch Crunch)

Begin supine, with lower back lightly pressing against mat. Extend your legs straight up (vertically toward the ceiling), ankles together. Straighten both arms and point your hands toward your toes. Slowly contract your abdomen by reaching for your toes. If holding your legs up is too difficult for you, you can lay in front of a wall and lean the heels against it. It is important to keep your legs in the same position. Your legs should have a slight bend in the knee and your arms should be fully extended. In the movement have your hands follow your shins and try to touch your toes. This exercise could be more difficult if you have some flexibility issues.

Toe Touch Crunch Exercise

Toe Touch Crunch Exercise

Muscles Used in the Vertical Leg Crunch Exercise

This exercise is particularly suitable for working upper abs area of the abdominal muscles.

All of your core muscles are used during the vertical leg crunch exercise including: rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis (deepest of the abdominal muscles), lower back extensors (spinal erectors), and even a slight use of the oblique abdominal muscles.

Replacement Exercises

Try these other exercises targeting the same primary muscle group (rectus abdominis – upper area):

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