Toe-touch crunches are a core exercise that targets the rectus abdominis and obliques. The toe touch works your abdominal muscles through spinal flexion, which is bending your spine forward as you reach to touch your toes. A few variations of the toe touches allow you to pick the exercise that matches your fitness level.
Single-leg Toe-touch Crunch
The single-leg toe-touch crunch works your abdominals and your thighs. This version is easier than the double-leg toe touch, because one foot stays on the ground at all times. You do not have to hold your legs up throughout the exercise. To perform a single-leg toe touch, lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Hold your arms straight over your head and crunch your shoulders off the floor. Bring your left leg toward your chest and touch your big toe with your right hand. Alternate sides.
Double-leg Toe-touch Crunch
The double-leg toe-touch crunch is more difficult than the single-leg version. Your abs have to stabilize your pelvis with both legs in the air, and you have to crunch your upper body higher to reach your toes. To perform this exercise, lie on your back with your legs straight toward the ceiling. Squeeze your abs to push your lower back down. Then, crunch your head and shoulders off the floor, extend your arms straight and reach for your toes.
Medicine Ball Toe Touches
The medicine ball toe touches add the weight of a medicine ball to the exercise. Your abs must work even harder for you to be able to reach your toes. Perform this exercise the same way you do the double-leg toe touch, but hold a medicine ball between your hands. Try to touch your toes with the medicine ball. For safety, only use a ball light enough that you can do the exercise without strain or risk of dropping the ball on your face or chest.
Off-to-the-Side Toe Touches
The off-to-the-side toe touches emphasize the obliques. Through rotating your upper body as you crunch, you activate the obliques more as they work to assist in spinal flexion. To perform the off-to-the-side toe touches, lie on your back in the starting position of the double-leg exercise. As you rise off the floor, twist to the left and past the outside of your left foot. Repeat to the right, alternating sides.
Sarka-Jonae Miller has been a freelance writer and editor since 2003. She was a personal trainer for four years with certifications from AFAA and NASM. Miller also worked at 24 Hour Fitness, LA Fitness and as a mobile trainer. Her career in the fitness industry begin in 2000 as a martial arts, yoga and group exercise instructor. She graduated cum laude from Syracuse University.