A vertical leg crunch is an ab workout that targets the rectus obdominus and the oblique muscles in the body's core. They are similar to basic stomach crunches but involve extending the legs into the air in order to better isolate the abdominal muscles during the crunches. Vertical leg crunches are an important exercise for athletes who are trying to develop a flat, toned stomach or who are trying to build defined abdominal muscles.
To perform a vertical leg crunch, an athlete should begin by lying on his or her back. The athlete then extends his or her legs straight into the air until they are perpendicular to the floor. The legs should be crossed and should remain close to each other without the athlete pressing them together tightly. The athlete can place his or her hands behind the head or can let them lie gently on the floor next to the body.
From this position, the athlete begins the vertical leg crunch by contracting the abdominal muscles. This will cause the body to contract slightly and the shoulders will lift off of the floor slightly. The athlete should pull the abdominal muscles in toward the spine and ensure that the lift of the body is a result of that contraction rather than from contraction of the hip muscles.
Once the athlete has reached this position, he or she should hold it for a brief moment before relaxing the abdominal muscles and lowering his or her upper body back to the floor. The athlete should then repeat the vertical leg crunch. The number of repetitions can vary, but 12 to 16 repetitions usually are appropriate.
As with all exercises, there are some particular aspects of this form of exercise of which the athlete should remain aware. If the athlete chooses to place his or her hands behind the head during the exercise, he or she must be careful not to pull on the neck. Also, it is important to keep the legs as straight as possible, because bending them will prevent the exercise from fully isolating the abdominal muscles.
When combined with other abdominal exercises, the vertical leg crunch can provide outstanding benefits for the abdominal muscles. It is a variation of the basic crunch, so the motion of a vertical leg crunch should be familiar to most athletes, although keeping the legs in the air can be a challenge for inexperienced athletes. Performing the exercise, though, strains the abdominal muscles in a slightly different way than other types of crunches, so it has some unique benefits.