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Vertical Leg Crunches: Exercise Guide

July 9, 2024
April 24, 2024
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Are you looking to build and strengthen your upper glutes while working your legs and booty from various angles? This vertical leg crunches guide is for you! Alongside, discover 15-minute workouts designed to tone the upper part of your glutes. You will definitely get that desired lift and sculpted look. Vertical leg crunches not only strengthen your core but also engage more abdominal muscles compared to basic crunches. Plus, this bodyweight workout requires no equipment and can be completed in the comfort of your own home or anywhere!

  • Primary muscles worked: Abs
  • Secondary muscles worked: Chest, hamstrings
  • Equipment: No equipment
  • Calories Burned: 8 cal (1 minute)

Key Takeaways

  • This guide provides a 15-minute upper glute workout that targets and tones the upper glutes from various angles.
  • The workout includes vertical leg crunches, which are effective for strengthening and toning the abdominal muscles, particularly the rectus abdominis.
  • Vertical leg crunches also engage other core muscles, such as the obliques and transverse abdominis.
  • By incorporating variations of vertical leg crunches, a workout can target different areas of the core and make it more engaging and challenging.
  • In addition to the upper glute workout, the text suggests other body exercises like leg raises, flutter kicks, single-leg lunges, and lunges.

Vertical Leg Crunches Instructions

Vertical leg crunches are a great exercise to target your abdominal muscles. Here’s how you can perform vertical leg crunches:

  1. Lie on your back on a flat surface with your legs straight up in the air. Place your hands behind your head.
  2. Activate your abdominal muscles and raise your upper body from the floor, while simultaneously bringing your elbows towards your knees.
  3. Lower your upper body back down and repeat the movement.
  4. Make sure to keep your legs straight and your lower back pressed into the ground throughout the exercise.

If you struggle with the straight-leg variation, you can begin by bending your arms and legs at a 90-degree angle and progressively progress to the straight-leg form.

Vertical leg crunches
Vertical leg crunches

Sets And Reps

For vertical leg crunches, it is recommended to start:

  • 2-3 sets of 15 to 20 repetitions

Start by doing 2 sets of 10 to 15 repetitions. Over time, increase the number of sets and reps as you become stronger. You can increase the challenge of abs workout by doing variations of crunches, like toe touchers, and bicycle crunches.

Vertical Leg Crunches Benefits

Vertical leg crunches offer a variety of benefits for your abdominal muscles and overall core strength. Here are some key benefits:

  • Strengthen and tone the muscles in your abdomen: Vertical leg crunches target the rectus abdominis, the muscle responsible for the “six-pack” appearance. By performing this exercise regularly, you can strengthen and tone your abdominal muscles, leading to a more defined and sculpted midsection.
  • Improve your overall core strength and stability: In addition to targeting the rectus abdominis, vertical leg crunches engage other core muscles such as the obliques and transverse abdominis. A strong core is essential for stability and balance in various activities, including everyday movements like lifting, carrying, and bending.
  • Enhance posture and reduce back pain: Strong abdominal muscles play a crucial role in supporting your spine and maintaining good posture. By strengthening your abs through exercises like vertical leg crunches, you can help alleviate back pain and improve your overall spinal alignment. Better posture not only looks more appealing but also reduces the risk of injury and discomfort.

Incorporating vertical leg crunches into your workout routine can contribute to a strong, stable core and toned abdominal muscles, promoting overall health and fitness. It’s important to perform the exercise with proper form and gradually increase the intensity to maximize the benefits while minimizing the risk of injury.

Integrate diet and at-home workouts into your weight loss routine

Vertical Leg Crunches Exercises

Here are variations of vertical leg crunches that you can incorporate into your workout routine to add variety and challenge your abdominal muscles in different ways:

  • Vertical Leg Cross Crunch (Bicycle Crunch): This variation combines the vertical leg crunch with a twisting motion. To perform a vertical leg cross crunch, lie on your back with your legs extended vertically. Place your hands behind your head, lift your shoulder blades off the ground, and bring your right elbow towards your left knee while extending your right leg out. To switch sides, extend your left leg out while bringing your left elbow towards your right knee. Continue alternating sides in a fluid and bicycling motion.
  • Alternating Vertical Leg Crunch: This variation adds an alternating leg movement to the standard vertical leg crunch, increasing the challenge for your lower abs and hip flexors. Start by lying on your back with your legs extended vertically. Lift your shoulder blades off the ground as you reach towards your toes with one hand, crunching your upper body towards your legs. Lower back down and switch to the other side, reaching towards your other foot. Continue alternating sides to target both sides of your abdomen.
  • Wall Crunch: The wall crunch variation provides additional support for your lower back and allows for a greater range of motion, making it suitable for beginners or individuals with lower back issues. To perform a wall crunch, lie on your back with your legs extended against a wall and your feet resting on the wall. Remember to keep your lower spine flat on the wall. Place your hands behind your head, lift your shoulder blades off the ground, and engage your core to crunch upwards towards your legs. Lower back down with control and repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Adding these variations of vertical leg crunches into your exercise routine can help target different areas of your core muscles and keep your workouts engaging and effective. Remember to maintain proper form, control your movements, and listen to your body to prevent injury and maximize the benefits of these exercises.

Related Core Exercises

Here are additional lower body exercises that can assist in enhancing, shaping, and toning your thighs, hips, legs, and glutes:

  • Leg raises: Lie on your back with your hands at your sides or under your glutes for support. Keep your legs straight and lift them upwards towards the ceiling, engaging your core and keeping your lower back pressed into the ground. Slowly lower your legs back down without letting them touch the ground to complete one repetition. Leg raises target the lower abs, hip flexors, and lower back.
  • Flutter kicks: Lie on your back with your hands under your glutes for support. Raise your legs a few inches above the ground and alternate kicking them up and down in a fluttering motion. Keep your core engaged and focus on maintaining a steady pace. Flutter kicks target the lower abs, hip flexors, and inner thighs.
  • Single leg lunge: Begin by standing with your feet hip-width apart and stepping forward with one foot. Descend by bending both knees to 90-degree angles, ensuring that your front knee does not protrude past your toes. Return to the initial position by pushing through the heel of your leading foot. Perform the same movement on the other leg. Single-leg lunges work the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves.
  • Lunges: Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart. Take a significant stride forward with one foot and lower your body until both knees form 90-degree angles, ensuring that your front knee is aligned with your ankle. Push through your front heel to return to the starting position. Repeat on the other leg. Lunges engage multiple lower body muscles, including the quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves.

Incorporating these lower body exercises into your fitness routine will help you build strength, improve muscle tone, and enhance overall lower body aesthetics. Remember to maintain proper form, focus on controlled movements, and gradually increase the intensity and resistance as you progress. Consistency and dedication are key to achieving your desired fitness goals.

15-minute Popular Workouts

Whether you’re a beginner or a fitness enthusiast, this workout is suitable for all levels. So, let’s dive in and give your own upper abs and booty the attention it deserve with this 15-minute upper glute workout!

Sumo Squats (3 sets x 12 reps)​

  1. Assume a stance with your feet positioned wider than hip-width apart and your toes slightly angled outwards.
  2. Keeping your chest up, lower down into a squat position, making sure your knees track over your toes.
  3. Squeeze your glutes and return to the starting position.

Curtsy Lunges (3 sets x 12 reps each leg)

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Step one foot diagonally behind you, crossing it behind the front leg.
  3. Lower down into a lunge position, keeping your chest up and core engaged.
  4. Push through the front heel to return to the starting position.

Donkey Kicks (3 sets x 15 reps each leg)

  1. Start on your hands and knees with your wrists stacked under your shoulders and knees under your hips.
  2. While maintaining a 90-degree bend in your knee, raise one leg towards the ceiling and activate your glutes.
  3. Lower back down without touching the ground and repeat on the same leg before switching to the other.

This type of focused workout can help you strengthen and sculpt your upper glutes, legs, and overall lower body. Remember to perform each exercise with proper form, focus on engaging the target muscles, and adjust the repetitions or sets based on your fitness level and goals. Additionally, combining this core workout along with a balanced diet and consistent exercise routine can help you achieve the desired results.

You may also like:

The glute building workout plan with PDF


The provided 15-minute upper glute workout, paired with the suggested lower body exercises, can significantly contribute to building strength and attaining your desired fitness objectives. Remember, consistency, proper form, and gradual progression are vital elements in maximizing the benefits of these exercises. Don’t forget, you can access a variety of effective workouts targeting your abs and glutes for free on the JustFit App!

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Elizabeth Quinn. (2020). How to Do the Vertical Leg Crunch. [online]. Available at: [Accessed 20 Mar 2024].

MasterClass. (2021). Vertical Leg Crunch Guide: How to Master Vertical Leg Crunches. [online]. Available at: [Accessed 20 Mar 2024].

About authors
Jessica Brown
Written by
Jessica Brown is a 29-year-old freelance copywriter who is passionate about human nature and is now immersing herself deeply into the realm of health and wellness. Jessica holds a Master of Arts in Literary Studies from the National University of Singapore and a Bachelor's in Biology from the University of Cambridge.