Isometric Hold and Crunch

I am definitely a fan of¬†simple, classic movements. Exercise doesn’t have to be fancy to be effective. That said, sometimes we need to spice things up or add a little bit of variety to boost motivation. I was introduced to this movement recently, and found it to be fun, challenging and effective.

Form is always of utmost importance. As with any exercise, don’t sacrifice form for additional resistance, speed, diversity, or anything else. If you’re still working to build basic core strength, and traditional crunches put a strain on your neck, hold off on trying this move until you feel more prepared. At the bottom of this page I have listed a couple of modifications to decrease intensity, if required.

Isometric Hold and Crunch

Lay flat on the ground, facing up toward the ceiling. Bend one leg to form a 90 degree angle and hold a weighted medicine ball between your knee and hand (I am using an 8lbs ball in these pictures). This arm and leg will not move. Focus on squeezing the knee and hand together to hold the medicine ball in place and activate the muscles (create contraction), but there will be no range of motion. Extend your other arm and leg. These will be your “active” limbs. Lift the active leg and shoulder blades slightly off of the ground to engage your core. This will be your starting position.


Keeping active limbs long, slowly lift each one simultaneously to reach for the toes and meet in the middle. You should be exhaling on the lift and inhaling as you return to the starting position. Opposite side maintains contraction with no movement. The knee will be pushing toward your head as the hand provides equal resistance to press the knee away. The harder you push, the more you increase intensity.


As you move through your prescribed repetitions, be aware of your body position and holding true to form. Continue to ask yourself if your breath is good, if you’re maintaining a good angle on the isometric hold (as you fatigue, you’ll notice that 90 degree angle diminishing…make the correction), is your power coming from your core or are you trying to lift through the neck? Stay strong. Do not allow active leg and shoulder blades to touch down on the floor between reps, but bring the arm and leg as close to the ground as you can with slow and controlled movement.


You can modify this exercise slightly and decrease intensity in the following ways:

  1. Use your hand to press directly against your knee in the isometric hold (eliminating the medicine ball).
  2. Rest active arm and leg completely  down between each rep.

Whether you choose to add additional resistance with a medicine ball, or perform this movement on its own with rest between reps (allowing the shoulder blades and active leg to release to the ground between reps), try for three sets of 10-15 on each side, with good form. See how you feel and adjust the intensity accordingly.


Train hard, train safe and have fun!