Hands Up Crunch: A Simple Modification To Enhance Your Ab Workout

Are you tired of doing endless crunches without seeing any results? The hands up crunch is a difficult move to master, and it’s often overlooked in traditional ab workouts. However, incorporating this exercise into your routine can be the key to finally achieving that six-pack. Many people struggle with properly engaging their core during ab workouts, which can lead to frustration and lack of progress. But fear not, we’re here to guide you through the perfect hands up crunch and teach you how to activate those hard-to-reach muscles for maximum results.

Hands Up Crunch Summary

  • Primary Muscles: Rectus Abdominis
  • Secondary Muscles: Obliques
  • Equipment: Body Weight
  • Mechanics Type: Isolated
  • Force: Pull
  • Utility: Auxiliary
Graphic image of a fit man performing alternate cable triceps extensions.

Hands Up Crunch Instructions

  • You can start by getting into a crunch position on your back, knees together and bent, on a flat surface or mat.
  • Next, point your hand together over your head so that they are going straight with your biceps next to your ears.
  • Now, roll your upper body up to the crunch by pulling with your abs.
  • Pause, once your lower back is the barely touching the ground and then lower yourself back to the starting position by rolling again.
  • Then repeat you crunches for reps of 10-30 per set.

Video Tutorial

How to do a Perfect Crunch

Hands Up Crunch Muscles

Target (Agonist)


Dynamic Stabilizers

  • None


Antagonist Stabilizers

  • None
Image of the skeletal muscular system with the muscles used in the hands up crunch exercise highlighted in red and the rest in blue.

Benefits of Hands Up Crunch

The Hands Up Crunch is an effective exercise for targeting the Rectus Abdominis muscle. This exercise requires you to lift your legs off the floor, bringing your knees to your chest and lifting your arms overhead. By doing this, you are engaging your Rectus Abdominis, which is the muscle that runs from your sternum to your pubic bone and helps to support your core and protect your spine. The Hands Up Crunch allows you to create a stronger, more stable core by strengthening this particular muscle. Additionally, this exercise can help you to reduce the appearance of a protruding stomach by toning and tightening the Rectus Abdominis.

Tips for Performing Hands Up Crunch

Your at the right place if you’re trying to advance your hands up crunch performance. Using these suggestions will allow you to take full advantage of this effective workout. You will develop your abs muscles, and even reduce your risk of experiencing an injury. So let’s get begin and look at what these tips can accomplish for you.

  • Set Yourself Up for Success – Make sure you are in a comfortable position with your feet flat on the floor and your arms extended above your head. This will ensure you are able to perform the exercise correctly and get the most benefit.
  • Engage Your Core – While you are crunching, engage your core muscles by pulling your belly button towards your spine. This will help to protect your back and get the most out of the exercise.
  • Keep Your Form – As you crunch up, focus on keeping your form, not just how many repetitions you can do. This will ensure that you are working the correct muscles, avoiding injury, and getting the most out of each set.

Benefits and Tips Video

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Frequent Mistakes To Avoid

When conducting hands up crunch, keeping away from common errors is key to achieving optimal results and avoiding pain. From bad form to not keeping your core engaged, these errors can reduce the effectiveness of the exercise and can even increase your risk for injury. Not only can preventing these errors make you stronger, but also can assist in you feeling more assured and inspired when you hit the gym. So it is time for you to optimize the impact of this exercise and experience the benefits of a successful workout.

  • Not keeping their knees bent during the exercise: Keeping your knees bent during the exercise helps to engage your core and lower body muscles more effectively, allowing for a more complete workout.
  • Not keeping their arms straight: Keeping your arms straight helps to engage your upper body muscles more effectively, ensuring a more intense workout.
  • Not squeezing their abs at the top of the exercise: Squeezing your abs at the top of the exercise helps to engage your core and abdominal muscles, allowing for better muscle development.

Find More Bodyweight Exercises Here

Variations and Complementary Exercises

These variations, complementary, and alternative exercises will help you work similar muscles as the exercise Hands Up Crunch. Whether you are looking for a new challenge, or a way to mix up your routine, these exercises are sure to bring a fresh take to your workout.


Graphic image of Crunch.

Crunch is a great exercise to pair with the Hands Up Crunch. This simple yet effective exercise can help strengthen your core and build abdominal muscles. By lying on your back and bringing your knees up towards your chest, you can work your entire abdominal region, from your rectus abdominis to your transverse abdominis. Additionally, you can use variations of the crunch like an oblique crunch or a reverse crunch to target different muscle groups in your core. Crunch is also great for targeting muscles that are not used in the Hands Up Crunch, making it a great complementary or alternative exercise.

Tuck Crunch

Graphic image of Tuck Crunch.

Tuck Crunch is a great exercise for those who are looking for an alternative or complementary exercise to the Hands Up Crunch. This exercise targets the same core muscles, but instead of having your arms up in the air, you keep them tucked in by your sides. To perform the Tuck Crunch, start by lying on your back with your feet flat on the floor and your knees bent. Then, lift your upper body off the floor and bring your knees towards your chest. Hold this position for a few seconds before slowly lowering back down. This exercise helps strengthen your core muscles and improve stability in your lower back.

Superman Plank

Graphic image of Superman Plank.

Superman Plank is a great complementary exercise to Hands Up Crunch, as it strengthens the back muscles and helps to improve posture. This exercise requires the user to get into a plank position, then raise the arms and legs off the ground while simultaneously squeezing the abs and glutes. This exercise engages the core muscles while also providing a stretch to the back. It is great for improving balance and stability, as well as engaging the muscles of the upper and lower body. This exercise is a great alternative for those who may have difficulty with the more challenging Hands Up Crunch exercise.

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Sit Up

Graphic image of Sit Up.

The Sit Up is a great complementary or alternative exercise to the Hands Up Crunch. It is an abdominal exercise that works the same muscles as the Hands Up Crunch, but in a different way. To do a Sit Up, you lie on your back and lift your torso off the floor while keeping your feet flat on the ground. This exercise requires you to use your core strength and abdominal muscles to lift your body off the ground. It is a great way to build up strength and endurance in your core muscles and is a great alternative to the Hands Up Crunch if you are looking for an additional challenge.

Reverse Crunches

Graphic image of Reverse Crunches.

Reverse Crunches are a great complementary or alternative exercise to the Hands Up Crunch. This exercise requires you to lie on your back with your legs bent, feet flat on the floor, and arms at your sides. As you raise your legs up towards the ceiling, bring your knees in towards your chest. Then as you lower your legs, keep them close to the ground. This exercise focuses on the lower abdominal muscles and can provide an effective workout for those looking for an alternative to the Hands Up Crunch.

Parallel Bar Leg Raise

Graphic image of Parallel Bar Leg Raise.

Parallel Bar Leg Raise is an excellent alternative or complementary exercise for the Hands Up Crunch. This exercise targets the lower abs and core, engaging muscles to lift the legs up parallel to the floor and slowly lower them back down. It helps build strength and stability in the abdominal region, and can be a great addition to any ab workout routine. The added challenge of holding onto the bars while lifting the legs increases the intensity, making it perfect for those looking to take their workout to the next level.

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Opposing Complementary Exercises

It is also beneficial to incorporate other exercises that utilize opposing muscle groups in order to build balance and symmetry in your body. The following exercises are perfect for completing alongside the Hands Up Crunch to ensure that you are working both sides of the body equally.

Good Mornings With Bands

Graphic image of Good Mornings With Bands.

Good Mornings With Bands is an excellent complementary exercise to Hands Up Crunch. This exercise works the opposing muscle groups in the body, specifically targeting the lower back and glutes. The bands provide additional resistance to these muscles, making them stronger and more toned. Good Mornings With Bands is an effective way to build overall strength while helping to prevent injury. It also helps to improve posture, balance and flexibility. The exercise helps to improve performance in other exercises, such as Hands Up Crunch, which works the abdominal muscles. Doing Good Mornings With Bands in conjunction with Hands Up Crunch will help to create a balanced and strong core.

Lever Back Extension (Machine)

Graphic image of Lever Back Extension (Machine).

The Lever Back Extension machine is a great way to complement the Hands Up Crunch exercise. It helps to strengthen the opposing muscle group by targeting the lower back, glutes, and hamstrings. The Lever Back Extension is an excellent tool for developing core strength and stability as well as improving posture. It also helps to increase flexibility in the lower back and hips which can help reduce the risk of injury. By working the opposing muscle group with the Lever Back Extension, it creates balance and helps to promote overall body strength.

Barbell Stiff Leg Good Morning

Graphic image of Barbell Stiff Leg Good Morning.

The Barbell Stiff Leg Good Morning is a great complementary exercise to the Hands Up Crunch. This exercise works the opposite muscle group, primarily targeting the hamstrings and glutes. It helps to develop overall lower body strength and stability, while also increasing hip mobility. By doing this exercise alongside the Hands Up Crunch, you can create balance in your training and help prevent muscle imbalances and overuse injuries.

Get Those Abs On Fire With The Hands Up Crunch!

If you’re looking to target your abs, the hands up crunch is an excellent exercise to incorporate into your routine. This move requires you to lift your hands off the ground while performing a standard crunch, engaging your core muscles even more. It’s an intense exercise, but the results are worth it. Incorporate the hands up crunch into your regular ab workouts to see increased definition and strength in your core. Remember to focus on proper form and control, and don’t be afraid to start slow and build up intensity over time.

References: Wikipedia | ExRx.net | PubMed.gov | Comprehensive List of Abs Bodyweight Exercises

Pin image for hands up crunch post. With an image of a man performing the exercise on Top and a graphic of the exercise on the Bottom.

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