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Mastering the Cross Leg Reverse Crunch: Sculpt Your Core To Perfection

woman doing cross leg reverse crunch in the gym


Looking to have a toned core in 2024? Look no further! The cross leg reverse crunch is a dynamic exercise that focuses on the abdominal muscles and challenges your core. The awesome part about this exercise is that it engages multiple muscle groups as you focus on controlled movements.

Adding the cross-leg reverse crunch to your core routine will undeniably help you to build strength while enhancing your stability and balance. Without further ado, let’s dive into this transformative exercise that brings a fresh twist to your boring old traditional crunches!

How to Do a Cross Leg Reverse Crunch

  1. Lie flat on your back and extend your arms by your side (or behind your head for support).
  2. Bend your knees at a 90-degree angle, raising them off the ground. Cross your ankles so that one leg is over the other.
  3. Engage your core muscles. Contract your abs, lifting your hips off the ground while bringing your knees towards your chest. TIP: focus on your core muscles to do controlled movement instead of swinging and using momentum.
  4. Slowly lower your hips back down to the starting position, but keep your feet off the ground to keep the tension in your abs. 
  5. Repeat for the desired number of reps. 

Check out the short clip below for a visual on how to do this exercise!

What is the Difference Between Regular Crunches and Cross Leg Reverse Crunches?

Regular crunches commonly target the upper abdominal muscles and involve lifting the upper body towards the knees. This movement will also activate the rectus abdominis.

On the contrary, cross leg reverse crunches target the lower part of the rectus abdominis more. Because you are using your lower abdominals to lift your hips off the ground body in a controlled manner, you are also engaging your hip flexors as well. 

Cross Leg Reverse Crunch Benefits

Cross leg reverse crunches typically target the rectus abdominis, which is the front layer of muscle everyone sees when you have a “six-pack”. So you could correctly assume that adding cross leg reverse crunches can contribute to your abdominal tone and overall aesthetic. 

This exercise also focuses on the internal and external obliques, which are responsible for core stabilization and twisting movements. 

While I could go on and on about these specific muscles and how much they do in our daily function and activities, it’s most important to know why is it important to even have a strong core?

A study published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science states that “Stability of the trunk plays roles in the elderly and individuals with disabilities, not only in maintaining an upright body posture, but also in helping to change positions when sitting, standing, and walking.” [1]

Benefits of having a strong core: 

  • Improve body balance
  • Improve postural control
  • Contribute to spinal stability
  • Helps reduce the risk for injury in sports [1]

The benefits of core training have been investigated in a study published in Frontiers in Physiology  - stating that training your core helps to stabilize your spine and prevent unnecessary torso movements. Overall, this contributes to improved performance and less injury. This systematic review concluded that effective core training should not be less than 2 times a week for a duration of 4 weeks. [2]  


Cross Leg Reverse Crunch FAQ

How do you do a reverse cross leg crunch?

The instructions for performing a reverse cross leg crunch are simply in the above how-to section. There are many sources online as well on how to do this both in written form and on YouTube. 

What is cross leg reverse crunch Air Force?

This is a variation of the cross leg reverse crunch that has been used as a part of the Air Force Fitness Test since 2021. See the video below on this variation, which also targets the lower abdominals, obliques, and hip flexors. 


What is the point of reverse crunches?

As mentioned in a previous section, reverse crunches focus on using your lower body to perform controlled movements and therefore activates your lower abdominal muscles. Doing so will also engage your hip flexors and build strength in your lower core area. It is also noted that reverse crunches can also help improve posture by activating muscles that support the lower spine. 

In our modern society where office jobs require prolonged sitting or we might be more sedentary than we like, having a strong core can help prevent postural strain or reduce neck or back pain. 

As someone who has issues doing floor abdominal exercises without eventually experiencing neck strain, reverse crunches are a favorite of mine as I find them more comfortable for my neck and challenging to do as well. 

What do cross crunches work?

The three common muscle groups used in cross crunches are:

  • Rectus Abdominus: More commonly referred to as your “six-pack”!
  • Obliques: These are located at the sides of your abdomen and are responsible for the rotation and lateral flexion of your trunk - also assisting with core stability and strength.
  • Hip Flexors: Keeping your hip flexors strong can help with hip flexibility and mobility. 

Cross Leg Reverse Crunch: Conclusion

Athlete or not, the cross leg reverse crunch is a great addition to your core strength training regimen. Just like other muscle groups, it’s essential to have a balanced approach to your training - while the traditional crunch is more upper abdominals, this variation of reverse crunches will get you on the lower abdominals! (Also check out our page on the McGill Crunch!)

Don’t sleep on the multiple benefits associated with a strong core! As it goes with any exercise, consistency, and proper form are important to achieving these benefits - whether you’re looking for a stronger core or better athletic performance, try this crunch out! 


[1] Hsu, S., Oda, H., Shirahata, S., Watanabe, M., Sasaki, M. Effects of core strength training on core stability. Journal of Physical Therapy Science, 2018. 

[2] Luo, S., Soh, K.G., Soh, K.L., Sun, H., Nasiruddin, N., Du, C., Zhai, X. Effect of core training on skill performance among athletes: a systematic review. Frontiers in Physiology, 2022. 

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