8 Ab Exercises Better Than Crunches to Fire Up Your Core

ab exercises better than crunches

Hate crunches? Well, we’ve got news you’re going to be really happy about… there are ab exercises better than crunches that you’re going love! If you’ve ever experienced back pain from doing crunches, found crunches to be ineffective or just plain get bored with them, you’ll be excited to know there are better alternative ab exercises!

What’s Wrong with Crunches?

What’s so bad about doing crunches? You’ve probably been doing them ever since you were yay big, as they’ve been a staple among various fitness programs throughout history. Well, crunches tend to only work the abdominals directly and not necessarily the supporting muscles in the core.

What’s more, crunches force you to push your back against the floor while it’s rounded, and often, you can find yourself pulling on your head and neck to propel your body up and forward. This can lead to neck strain and headaches. In addition, crunches can put too much stress on the hip flexors, which can lead to lower back pain as well.

Muscles That Make Up the Abdominals

You may think your abs only involve that six-pack you see on super-fit people, but in actuality, your abdominals are comprised of a number of different muscles.

  • Rectus abdominis—this is your “six-pack” area and forms the front and center portion of your abs. These assist with all planes of movement and help support your spine.
  • Internal and external obliques—these run diagonally up and down the sides of your middle. They mainly help with rotating, twisting, and bending to the sides.
  • Transversus abdominis—this muscle is deep underneath all the other layers and forms a sheath all around your middle. It helps stabilize and support you.

There are other smaller muscle groups, such as the hip flexors and lumbar muscles, that help the abs or are next to the abs as well, but the above are the main movers.

8 Ab Exercises Better Than Crunches

So, if you’re over crunches but you still want a great abdominal workout, these will be some of your go-to exercises:

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1. Planks

Plyometric Side Planks

This exercise just might be the quintessential abdominal exercise. Start on your hands and knees, palms down and hands aligned under the shoulders. Straighten your legs and get up onto your tip toes, holding your body in a straight line. Make sure you keep your back straight. Try for a 20-second hold and progress from there.

2. Scissor Kicks

Ab Exercises Better Than Crunches

These kicks will challenge your core like crazy. Start by lying on your back with your legs out straight. Place your hands at the sides of your hips for stability. Lift your feet about four inches off the ground. “Scissor” your legs by bringing your right leg over your left and back to start and then your left leg over your right and back to start. Repeat 20 times.

3. Sliding Planks

If you have access to sliders (small disks that slide across the floor; you can also use anything slippery in their place), then this exercise is king. Start in the plank position, arms straight, with your feet on the sliders. Tighten your core and, keeping your legs straight, slide your feet up toward your hands. Your hips will raise as your feet get closer to your hands. Once you’re there, stay in control, and slide your feet back out until you’re back in the plank position.

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4. Farmer’s Walk

Farmer's Walk Exercise

Start with relatively heavy dumbbells, one in each hand. Walk forward while holding the dumbbells at your sides. This weighted walk will engage your core, help promote better posture, and help you get stronger.

5. Bear Crawl

alternatives to crunches

This is a fantastic way to work your abs. Start with your hands on the ground and your legs, straight, up on your toes. Next, “step” forward with the right hand and left foot. Repeat on the opposite side, stepping forward with the left hand and right foot. Continue this crawl as far as space allows. Note: you can make this harder by holding dumbbells in your hands and crawling forward with the weights.

6. Mountain Climbers

ab exercises better than crunches

Start in plank position and bring your right knee up to your chest. Move it back to the start and then bring your left knee up to your chest. Keep going in this manner until you have completed 15 repetitions on each side. Note: to make this more difficult, speed things up.

7. Plank Hip Dips

Start in plank position. Simply rotate your right hip toward the ground by twisting your torso, then return to the start. Repeat on the opposite side. Keep this momentum going for 30 seconds at a time.

8. Hollow Holds

alternatives to crunches

Start by lying on your back. Next, round your back and simultaneously bring your legs up off the ground (keeping them straight), along with your torso, to a “V” shape. Hold this position as long as you can. Then, slowly lower your legs and upper back toward the ground. The more slowly you can go and hold the position, the better!

So, if crunches are out for you, these ab exercises better than crunches are in! It’s the smart way to keep your body strong without risking injury. And you might even find that you enjoy some of these exercises as well, since they’re not the same old boring crunches. Finally, stronger, more toned abs mean a healthier you—across the board.