Brian Schiff gives his last entry into his backache-curing miniseries of Functionally Fits with the tripod oblique crunch. No equipment required on this one, just your hands, feet, legs and the rest!

See 'Related Resources' below for past Functionally Fits and other exercises and training tips.


Begin with both hands and feet on the floor (elbows slightly bent and knees extended) as if in the top of a push-up. Next, move the right knee toward the left elbow. Pause briefly, and return to the start position.

Then move the left knee toward the right elbow, and once again return to the start position.

Repeat this alternating sequence 30 seconds, and perform two to three sets.

This is an excellent way to strengthen the entire core as well as focus on the obliques and challenge hip and shoulder stability. This is a more advanced rotational exercise that can be added once clients can safely and correctly perform plank and side plank progressions. A few other tips:

  • Keep the neck retracted throughout the exercise to encourage good cervical spine alignment against gravity.
  • You may fully protract the scapulae throughout to add more serratus anterior muscle activation.
  • Exhale as you move the knee toward the elbow, and inhale upon the return movement.

Additional Notes
Begin with a controlled motion at a predictable pace until clients master the form. At this point, the exercise can also be done faster for more cardiovascular conditioning as well. In addition, you may elect to place the hands on the outside of an inverted BOSU aiming to keep it level throughout the exercise for additional shoulder and core stability training.

Brian Schiff, PT, CSCS (www.brianschiff.com) is a licensed physical therapist, respected author and fitness professional. He became a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) in 1998. In 2000, he opened his own personal training and sport-specific conditioning facility, Fitness Edge, in Dublin, Ohio. Brian has presented at several professional conferences and seminars on injury prevention and sport-specific training.