Supine Crunches (Reverse crunches): Steps, Benefits and Contraindications

Supine Crunches (Reverse crunches) - SharpMuscle
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Supine crunches, also known as Reverse crunches, are a type of abs exercise that focuses on the lower abdominal muscles.

Muscle targets

  1. Primary Muscles
    • Rectus abdominis, commonly known as the “six-pack” muscles
    • Transverse abdominis
  2. Secondary muscles
    • Hip flexors including iliopsoas (iliacus and psoas major) and rectus femoris
    • Quadriceps including rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus intermedius, and vastus medialis

Supine Crunches Practice Guide

Supine Crunches (Reverse crunches) - SharpMuscle
Image: Stefania Singlitico Trainer/Instagram
Supine Crunches (Reverse crunches) - SharpMuscle
Image: Stefania Singlitico Trainer/Instagram

Supine crunches are a great addition to your core training regimen since they assist to strengthen your lower abs and improve entire core stability.

Supine crunches differ from typical crunches in that they entail elevating your lower body while maintaining your upper body on the ground.

Step-by-step Reverse Crunches

  1. Lie flat on your back on a mat or a comfortable surface.
  2. Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the ground, hip-width apart.
  3. Position your arms alongside your body, palms facing down for support.
  4. Engage your core by drawing your navel towards your spine.
  5. While keeping your upper body stationary, exhale and slowly lift your feet off the ground, bringing your knees toward your chest.
  6. At the top of the movement, squeeze your abs and hold the contraction for a moment.
  7. Inhale and slowly lower your feet back down to the starting position, but without letting them touch the ground.
  8. Repeat the movement for the desired number of repetitions.


  1. Focus on using your abdominal muscles to initiate the movement, rather than relying on momentum.
  2. Keep your movements controlled and avoid jerking or swinging your legs.
  3. Maintain a steady breathing pattern throughout the exercise.
  4. If you’re a beginner, you can start with a smaller range of motion, gradually increasing it as your core strength improves.
  5. Avoid straining your neck or using your hands to pull your legs up. Let your abdominal muscles do the work.
  6. If you experience any discomfort or pain during the exercise, stop and consult a fitness professional or healthcare provider.
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Common Mistakes

Consider the following common mistakes and take steps to correct them, you can ensure that you are performing Supine Crunches correctly and maximizing the benefits for your core strength and stability. However, the common mistakes of Reverse Crunches are explaining below:

1. Using momentum

One common mistake is using momentum to swing the legs up instead of relying on the abdominal muscles to lift the legs. This reduces the effectiveness of the exercise as the targeted muscles are not fully engaged. To avoid this, focus on slow and controlled movements, consciously engaging your abdominal muscles throughout the entire range of motion.

2. Straining the neck

Another mistake is straining the neck by pulling on it or using it to lift the legs. This can lead to neck pain and take the emphasis away from the abdominal muscles. To prevent this, keep your neck relaxed and your head resting comfortably on the ground. The movement should be initiated from the core, not the neck.

3. Allowing the lower back to arch excessively

Allowing the lower back to lift off the ground excessively can strain the lower back and shift the focus away from the abdominal muscles. It’s important to maintain contact between your lower back and the ground throughout the exercise. Engage your core and use your abdominal muscles to lift your legs, keeping the movement controlled and limited to a range that allows you to maintain proper form.

4. Holding the breath

Holding your breath during the exercise can create unnecessary tension and disrupt your breathing pattern. Remember to breathe continuously and naturally throughout the movement. Exhale as you lift your legs and inhale as you lower them back down.

5. Neglecting proper form

Poor form can significantly reduce the effectiveness of supine crunches and increase the risk of injury. Make sure your feet are hip-width apart, your lower back is in contact with the ground, and your core is engaged. Avoid jerky or uncontrolled movements, and focus on maintaining proper alignment and control throughout the exercise.

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Modifications and Variations

The following modifications and variations of Reverse Crunches can be beneficial to accommodate different fitness levels, target specific muscle groups, or add variety to your workout routine.

1. Knee Raises

This modification is ideal for beginners or individuals with limited core strength. Instead of rising both legs off the ground, you may do knee raises by bending your knees and lifting them one at a time towards your chest. This reduces the resistance and makes the exercise easier to perform. As your core strength improves, you can progress to lifting both legs simultaneously.

2. Leg Extensions

To add more challenge and engage additional muscles, you can perform leg extensions during supine crunches. Lift your legs towards your chest, then straighten them out in front of you, floating a few inches over the ground. This variant works the hip flexors and quadriceps as well as the lower abdominal muscles.

3. Weighted Supine Crunches

Once you have mastered the basic form of supine crunches and want to further increase the intensity, you can incorporate weights. Hold a dumbbell, medicine ball, or other weighted object between your feet while performing the exercise. This additional resistance increases the workload on your abdominal muscles, making them work harder.

4. Bicycle Crunches

Bicycle crunches are a variation that involves a twisting motion, targeting not only the lower abs but also the obliques (side abdominal muscles). Begin in supine, raise your feet off the ground, and bring your right knee to your chest while rotating your body to bring your left elbow to your right knee. Alternate sides in a cycling motion. This exercise adds a rotational component and increases the challenge for your core muscles.

5. Decline Supine Crunches

To intensify the exercise and shift the focus to the lower abs, you can perform decline supine crunches. Lie on an incline bench with your head positioned lower than your feet. Follow the same form and movement as regular supine crunches, but the decline angle increases the resistance and places more emphasis on the lower abdominal muscles.

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Precautions and Contraindications of Supine Crunches

Consider the following precautions and contraindications, it’s crucial to considerations when performing any the Supine Crunches. They help ensure your safety and well-being during your workout. You can make informed decisions about whether supine crunches are appropriate for you or if modifications and alternatives are necessary.

However, the precautions and contraindications are explaining below:

  1. Pre-existing injuries or conditions: Before doing supine crunches or any new activity, talk with a healthcare practitioner or a competent fitness expert if you have any pre-existing ailments or problems. Certain medical issues, such as herniated discs, lower back discomfort, or abdominal hernias, may make this activity unsafe. A professional can provide personalized advice based on your specific situation to determine whether supine crunches are suitable or if modifications need to be made.
  2. Lower back or neck issues: Supine crunches involve movements that can place strain on the lower back and neck if performed incorrectly or if you have existing issues in these areas. Proceed with caution if you are in pain, discomfort, or have a history of lower back or neck difficulties. Modify the exercise or seek guidance from a fitness professional to ensure proper form and minimize the risk of injury.
  3. Pregnancy: Pregnancy introduces significant physiological changes in a woman’s body. Although many core workouts may be done safely throughout pregnancy, it’s crucial to speak with a healthcare provider to understand which ones are acceptable for each trimester. Supine crunches can cause discomfort or even cause harm to the abdominal muscles and pelvic floor, especially in the later stages of pregnancy.
  4. Diastasis recti: Diastasis recti is a condition characterized by the separation of the abdominal muscles, often occurring during or after pregnancy. For individuals with diastasis recti, traditional supine crunches can potentially worsen the condition. It’s important to consult with a healthcare professional or a specialized postnatal fitness expert who can guide you through safe exercises and modifications that promote healing and strengthen the core without exacerbating the separation.
  5. Pain or discomfort: If you feel any pain or discomfort while performing supine crunches, stop immediately. Pain is not normal and could indicate improper form, underlying issues, or excessive strain. Adjust the exercise or consult a professional to address any concerns and prevent further injury.

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