Raised-leg crunches are a variation on the traditional crunch you've probably used to keep your abs strong and toned. Mixing up your crunch styles is a good way to work all of the muscles in your stomach for a slim and defined look. Lifting your legs as you do crunches increases the muscle activation, increasing the benefits of the move.
To do a raised-leg crunch, lie on your back with your hands behind your head. Raise both legs into the air, bending your knees at a 90-degree angle. Your thighs should be perpendicular to the floor. Slowly raise your upper body toward your knees by lifting your shoulder blades off the floor. Tighten your ab muscles and hold the move for a second or two. Slowly lower your body back to the starting position to complete one raised-leg crunch.
Sets and Repetitions
MayoClinic.com recommends doing at least one set of 12 repetitions of each move in your strength training routine. This includes raised-leg crunches. As you get stronger and your endurance improves, add additional sets and repetitions to keep your progress on track. Work your way to three sets of 12 to 15 raised-leg crunches. Work your abs two or three days each week, with a day of rest between each, which gives your muscles time to repair and recover.
Knowing which muscles each of your chosen exercises work is a valuable way to make sure you are working all of your muscle groups equally. This reduces the risk of muscle imbalances that could result in injury or a disproportionate body shape. Raised leg crunches activate your lower and middle ab muscles, specifically the rectus abdominus muscles. Balance raised leg crunches with moves that target your lower abs and obliques for a well-rounded midsection exercise routine. Planks, lunges and squats are healthy choices.
As with any exercise, proper safety while doing raised-leg crunches is vital for preventing injuries and maximizing the benefits of the move. During a raised-leg crunch, avoid lifting your back from the ground. Stop when your shoulder blades are above the floor, but don't go any further. Do the move slowly, which cuts the risk of getting hurt, but also increases the total time that your abs are activated. Perform the exercise with a fluid movement rather than a jerky one, which helps ensure that you are getting the most out of raised-leg crunches without hurting yourself.