The Unconventional Guide to Vertical Leg Crunches (Step by Step)

a young man performing vertical let crunches at a beach.

Many of us consider the crunch to be an unavoidable staple in core training. And for years, it was a gold standard for every beginner who wanted to get ripped abs. However, our knowledge about core training expands. So, many fitness pros decided it’s time to step away from this exercise, as they don’t see it as super-effective. Does that mean you don’t have to learn how to perform vertical leg crunch? Does this distancing mean that it’s useless?


Well, certainly not. A few variations of the classic crunch still hold their weight. And vertical leg crunch is probably the most effective among them. So, it’s a great exercise, and it can help you shape your stomach after you lose belly fat with a healthy diet.

So, keep reading if you want to learn the proper form and different exercise variations. We’ll also talk about the common mistakes people make and the benefits you can expect.

Step by Step Instructions for Proper Form

There are a few key points to achieving the perfect form for this exercise.

  • Lay flat on your back and place your hand folded behind your neck.
  • Bring your legs up into an ”L” position. They should be perpendicular to the floor, and some bend in the knees is okay. Make sure that your lower spine is lying flat on the surface.
  • Contract the abs and lift your shoulder blades off the floor. Exhale in the upward motion, and don’t let your legs sway or list to the side.
  • Remember to use your core muscles. Don’t pull your neck and lead with the head. Your chin should always be up.
  • When your shoulder blades are off the floor, hold in that position for a moment or two.
  • Slowly lower your upper body and exhale in the downward motion. Keep your legs in the same position, and don’t let them crash on the floor.
  • When you’ve done with your reps, descend your legs slowly and in a controlled way.

The proper form will give you the results you want to achieve. Alt tag: Woman doing a vertical leg crunch.


Every exercise brings a set of benefits with it. Luckily, this one has quite a collection of those. For starters, it’s beginner-friendly. Vertical leg crunch can help new lifters understand how to contract their core without biasing their movement patterns. This is an issue that comes along with the traditional crunch. So, it’s obvious why the vertical version is better.

You also don’t need any equipment, which means that you can get into shape in the comfort of your home. That is if you implement a few other simple exercises, of course. Even when you advance, you’ll find this practice very convenient when on the road.

Now, maybe the most important benefits of all of these are the ones that your body will feel. And the rectus abdominis is the muscle that you’re targeting the most. However, the exercise is effective for lower back extensors, the transverse abdominals, and even internal and external obliques.

Working on your core muscles will increase your metabolism. It will also improve your posture and balance. All in all, these routines are a part of getting a full core workout. You can’t get to that point without trying out a few variations.

Read More: How To Master Dumbbell Sea Row Exercise Within A Week?

Modifications and Variations of Vertical Leg Crunch

We explained how to perform vertical leg crunch in its’ proper form in the beginning. However, you can do this exercise in many ways. There are many reasons why you might want or need a modification of it. But, generally, it’s all about making it more accessible and working your muscles in different ways.

Even before trying the basic version, get your hands on a mat or other soft surface. Pushing your spine into a hard floor is neither comfortable nor safe. If you can’t quite get your upper body off the floor when you start, that’s okay. Just go as far as you can, and return to the starting position. The improvement will come with practice.

There are many vertical leg crunch variations, and they’re all better options than the classic crunch that you can see in the picture.

On the other hand, if you’ve been into bodybuilding for some time now and you’re looking for a challenge, there’s something you can change up. Instead of keeping your hands behind the head, extend them toward your toes while in the crunch. For a more difficult challenge, place a weight on your chest and exercise with it.

Common Mistakes

Since we’re talking about an exercise suitable for beginners, it doesn’t come as a surprise that people make all kinds of mistakes when performing it. Today, we’ll deal with the most common examples and how to avoid them.

The first mistake we want to talk about is un-grounding the lower back. As we have already mentioned, your lower back should be lying flat on the floor while you’re crunching. So, if it’s coming off the ground when you reach for your toes, that’s a good sign that you’re losing core tension. This is easily solved by placing a rolled towel or a piece of foam under your back and pressing into it while working out.

And the second thing is using momentum. The movement should come from contracting your abs, not from violently swaying your upper body. The same goes for doing lazy reps. If you shorten the motion, you can’t expect many benefits. Even if you know what to eat before a workout and are generally careful about your diet, you won’t get far.

Lifting the lower back is one of the most common mistakes people make when learning vertical leg crunches. So we recommend that you should take help of a expert or a gym trainer.

Safety Advice and Precautions for Beginners

If you have a history of back or neck problems, be sure to talk to your doctor to check if crunches are the right option for you. If you don’t pay attention and do them improperly, these can compress the spine and stress the neck. And that’s something you want to avoid at all costs.

So, always make sure to keep your focus up when exercising. And remember that speed hides deficiency. You’ve learned how to perform vertical leg crunch, so make sure to use that knowledge. Move slowly and under control. Only that way will you get the results you’re after.

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