How to Do Lemon Squeezer Exercises

How to Do Lemon Squeezer Exercises

Want an ab exercise that isn’t the boring old push up or sit up? Try the lemon squeezer. The lemon squeezer exercise has nothing to do with lemons and everything to do with squeezing the heck out of your abdominals. This bodyweight exercise also goes by "V-up" or "jackknife" and sometimes "lemon crushers." Whatever you call it, the exercise is a challenging way to work your rectus abdominis -- the front layer of abdominal muscles that you see in the mirror.

How To Do the Lemon Squeezer

Get into starting position by laying on your back, with your arms and legs extended. Lift your arms and legs to hover an inch or two off the floor. Engage your belly by pulling your abs in towards your spine.

Crunch upward by bending your knees to your chest, lifting your upper body up off the floor and bringing your arms to reach for your calves. You'll be balanced on your hips. Release, with control, back to the floor to complete one repetition of this strength training exercise.

Here’s a full video from Frequency Fitness showing how to do this crossfit classic.


To make the move more difficult, keep the legs straight as you raise the lower body and torso to create the "V" shape at the top of the exercise.

Effectiveness of the Lemon Squeezer


How to Do Lemon Squeezer Exercises

The lemon squeezer can feel challenging for beginners, and that’s because it is. However, it does require a lot of assistance from your hip flexors and glutes as you crunch, so it's not just working the front of your abs. In fact, a study published in a 2012 issue of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that the basic crunch produces more activation in the rectus abdominis, especially the higher region, as compared to the jackknife, or lemon squeezer.

Make It a More Powerful Exercise

Stability Ball Jackknife

How to Do Lemon Squeezer Exercises

Perform a variation of the lemon squeezer using a stability ball to really kick up the intensity and muscle activating power of the move. Research in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies found that performing a stability ball jackknife maximized rectus abdominis activation when compared to a jackknife performed on a stable surface. The stability ball jackknife -- or lemon squeezer -- was also far more effective than a traditional curl-up, or crunch.

A Complete Ab Routine

Teofimo Lopez Media Workout

How to Do Lemon Squeezer Exercises

Although the lemon squeezer feels hard, it isn’t a comprehensive workout routine for your abs -- or your core, which consists of all the muscles of your torso. No single abdominal exercise is comprehensive in getting at all of your abs, though. If you choose to do the lemon squeezer to add variety to your exercise routine, make sure you do other moves along with it to increase your core strength and maximize weight loss.

Your abs flex, stabilize, twist and side bend your spine. Do at least one exercise that takes care of each of these movement patterns. The lemon squeezer covers flexion, as does the crunch. Twisting and rotation may be worked with bicycle crunches or dumbbell woodchops. Train stabilization with plank variations or the stomach vacuum.