One way to make an exercise more challenging is to change lever length. The load your body must resist when completing one repetition of an exercise (such as when you do one bicep curl or one crunch) is affected by how far away the load is from the pivot point. Let me explain:

When doing a crunch (such as the long (arm) lever crunch in my video), the pivot point would be near your hips. This is where the joint angle is changing. If your hands rest at your ears when doing a crunch, that is easier than if you straighten your arms above your head (see the photo below) while doing the crunch. Similarly, when you complete the crunch with the feet above the hips, it is easier on the abdominal muscles than if your legs were on an angle while doing the crunch (see the blog video for these examples!). The ab’s have to work harder when the straightened legs are lower toward the floor than when the legs are closer to the hip joint while positioned above the hips. 

The American Councel on Exercise (ACE) from Newell’s The Basics of Exercise Science (2019) states the following regarding lever length:

“…this refers to the amount of force placed on the body based on the relative position of the levers (usually the arms and legs). For example, it’s much easier to hold a 50-pound weight when you’re holding it close to your chest, but if you try to hold the weight out in front of you with arms extended, it’s going to be a lot more challenging. When you lengthen your arms (serving as your lever arm), you’re increasing the amount of torque on the body because that weight is now acting on your body from a distance and you must stabilize to stay in balance.”

The video which accompanies this blog post shows 9 ab exercises you can do at home to vary your workouts using changes in lever length to make exercises more challenging. I had so much fun editing this video, and I hope you will watch what I created! 

For more ideas on how to spice up your workouts, try our 14-day trial of all my Dance Corps workout videos OnDemand! Just go to

2019 Newell: The Basics of Exercise Science (Part Three), 2019.