Reverse crunches and V-ups are both effective exercises for developing strength and tone in the abs. They’re both considered body-weight exercises, which means you lift the weight of your own body and don’t need any additional equipment besides an exercise mat. If you’re looking to isolate your abs, reverse crunches are a better choice, but there’s no reason both exercises can’t be incorporated into the same core workout.
Reverse Crunch Technique
To do the reverse crunch, lie on your back with your knees bent and feet up off the floor. Set your arms and hands on the floor beside you. Contract your abs to pick your hips up off the floor and roll your spine to bring your knees up in the direction of your head. Hold the top position for a second and then control your spine and hips back to the floor. To increase the intensity of the reverse crunch, squeeze a medicine ball between your feet.
To perform the V-up, lie on your back on an exercise mat with your legs and arms extended. Simultaneously lift your legs and arms, picking your torso up off the floor. Touch your shoelaces with your hands and then control your legs and torso back to the floor. Keep your legs and arms straight throughout the entire movement. If you want to increase the intensity of the exercise, hold a medicine ball in your hands.
Using proper technique is important to ensuring safety during both the reverse crunch and the V-up. When doing the reverse crunch, as you bring your hips back to the floor to return to the starting position, don’t allow your knees to move beyond the vertical line of your hips or you’ll put too much stress on your spine. During V-ups, before you lift your legs and torso off the floor, contract your abs and push your lower back into the floor. This will protect the spine and prevent it from hyperextending.
According to ExRx.net, during V-ups, the rectus abdominis is the muscle that handles most of the work. The rectus abdominis is the major muscle in the abs. Also contributing to the movement are a collection of hip flexors, including the iliopsoas, pectineus, sartorius, rectus femoris and tensor fasciae latae, which contract to pull your legs up. When you’re performing the reverse crunch, however, because there’s not movement at your hip joints, your hip flexor muscles aren’t involved. Instead, you’re placing a greater load on the rectus abdominis. According to a 2001 study by the American Council on Exercise, reverse crunches are among the best exercises for isolating the abs.
- Photo Credit Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images