The vertical leg crunch is one of the most effective ab exercises you can do, because it works both the lower and upper abs and the obliques. Vertical leg crunches isolate the muscles of the abdomen more effectively than do traditional crunches. Here’s how you can perform vertical leg crunches to tone your core muscles.
1) Lie Flat on the Floor and Extend Your Legs Vertically
To start vertical leg crunches, lie flat on the floor and lift your legs vertically. Keep your legs as straight as possible; this helps tone the muscles of the thighs and hip flexor. Press your lumbar spine into the floor. Place your palms on either side of your hips; you can even tuck them under your buttocks a little to help keep your lower back flat.
2) Cross Your Ankles to Activate the Obliques
You can more effectively isolate and activate the obliques by crossing your ankles while you do vertical leg crunches. If you choose to cross your ankles, make sure you recross them the other way at the halfway point in your repetitions, so that both sides of the obliques are worked equally.
3) Lift Your Shoulder Blades Off the Floor
Perform the vertical leg crunch by lifting your shoulder blades off the floor, as if you were trying to bring your chest towards your knees. Keep your legs steady as you lift your chest off the floor. At the top of the movement, imagine that you’re trying to touch your spine with your own bellybutton.
4) Lower and Repeat
Lower your shoulder blades and lift them again for 10 to 15 repetitions, or more if you feel up to it. Increase the number of repetitions as you gain strength. Keep your legs steady and your lower spine pressed firmly into the floor as you repeat the vertical leg crunch. If you’ve crossed your ankles, recross them the other way halfway through your repetitions.
5) Move on to the Full Vertical Leg Crunch
Once you’ve got the hang of performing the vertical leg crunch, you can move on to performing the full vertical leg crunch. The full vertical leg crunch is very similar to the vertical leg crunch. The difference is that you’ll lift your heels toward the ceiling at the same time you’re lifting your shoulder blades off the floor. You can keep you palms pressed into the floor on either side of your hips to help maintain your balance; or you can lace your fingers behind your head, tent your fingers around your ears, or reach toward your legs with straight arms as you lift your shoulder blades and hips off the floor.
The full vertical leg crunch will be more difficult than the vertical leg crunch, because you’ll be activating the muscles of the lower abdomen simultaneously with the muscles of the upper abdomen. Perform 10 to 15 repetitions or as many as you feel capable of. Increase your repetitions as you gain strength.