Here’s a fun fact: Certain types of frogs can jump up to 20 times their own body length in a single leap. In other words? Those little buggers are strong AF. Though it may seem weird to take workout tips from an amphibian, hear me out. The “frog crunch”—which is inspired by the swimming motion that a frog makes in the water—might just be among the most effective abs-strengthening moves we’ve ever tried.
The exercise is essentially the combination of a reverse crunch and a regular crunch—which means you get the benefits of both, plus some pretty serious oblique work, without even realizing it. “Frog crunches target the entire abdominal wall and obliques and helps strengthen the core,” says Ana Pishevar, an elite personal trainer at Crunch Gym in Los Angeles. “Though the move primarily works the rectus abdominis [(the lower abs)] and the obliques, it engages all of the abdominal muscles, and is highly effective for improving posture and balance.” These Kermit-approved crunches have a one-up on regular reverse crunches (which solely hit your lower abs) in that they also target your obliques. “Oblique muscles help us rotate, twist, and bend our trunks, which is very important for many daily activities,” says Pishevar. Plus, because you’re using your core to stabilize your upper body, the upper-most parts of your abs will get some work in, too.
To try frog crunches out for yourself, start by sitting on the floor. Lean back to about 45 degrees, until you feel your core start to engage. Extend your legs out in front of you (for an extra challenge, keep your heels up off of the ground), and raise your arms out to the side so you’re creating a “T” shape with your shoulders. Keeping your back flat and upper body still, use your core muscles to pull your knees in toward your chest. As you do this, wrap your arms lightly around the outside of your legs and bring your hands to touch in front of them. Extend your limbs back out to return to start, and repeat.
In order to ensure you’re getting the most out of the exercise, you’ll want to make sure your upper and lower body are lifted just enough to fire up your core—that way, the work will be coming through your abs instead of your arms and legs. Keep your spine in a neutral position, move slowly, and try to avoid pulling on your neck with your hands. Once you’ve got that down, your frog-inspired workout will go—ahem—swimmingly.
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