Crunches have been around for a while. In fact, you might have bad memories of being forced to do crunches in elementary school P.E. However, crunches are actually not the most effective ab exercise. While crunches are great for isolating your upper abs, they can also be a strain on your neck and shoulders if done incorrectly. Additionally, they don’t work your lower abs, or obliques, implying that in order to get a defined six pack, you’re going to have to do more than just crunches.
Save your neck (and time), and try some of these no-crunch ab exercises. They’re more effective, and they target different areas of your core for all-around great-looking abs.
1. Mountain Climbers
Mountain climbers are great for weight loss, because they raise your heart rate while working your abs and shoulders. In order to burn the most calories, go as fast as you can without losing proper form.
2. Russian Twists
Target your obliques with Russian twists. This simple move is highly customizable. Make it easier by keeping your feet on the ground, or bring it to the next level by hovering them in the air and twisting with a weight.
3. Leg Lifts
This move is harder than it looks. While keeping your legs straight, raise them until they are ninety degrees to your body. It looks simple, but a few reps will leave your lower abs burning.
4. Plank Hip Twist
This plank variation works the muscles along the side of your torso. Try to keep your shoulders steady and maintain the rotation on your core to get the most out of this no-crunch ab exercise.
5. Side Bends
You have curls for your biceps and bench presses for your chest. When it comes to weight lifting, side bends are the best moves for your obliques.
6. Wood Choppers
Standing exercises are great for your abs because the twisting motion helps target your transverse abdominals, your body’s natural corset. Additionally, exercises such as this wood chop move are perfect for outdoor workouts when you don’t want to lay on the ground.
The plank is one of the all-time-best total-body moves. Holding the plank position for just 60 seconds will leave your arms shaking and your core burning.
8. Side Planks
Regular planks target the muscles running down the middle of your core. However, side planks work the obliques, which run along your sides. Try combining a 60-second plank with 60-second side planks to get an all around workout.
9. Side Plank Twist
If you’re ready to get to the next level, try these side planks with a twist. It’s a challenge to keep your balance, and you’ll find yourself holding your abs in tightly just to finish the exercise.
10. Boat Pose
If you practice yoga or Pilates, you have probably seen this boat pose. Although there isn’t much movement, holding your abs will work up a sweat.
11. Spiderman Planks
Spidermans are similar to mountain climbers, but they target more of your sides rather than your lower abs. Think of it as doing a side crunch without actually having to do the crunch.
12. Cross Punch
Shadow boxing is great cardio, and these standing punches are also great for your abs. Choose a weight that you are comfortable with, and when throwing punches, make sure you twist from your middle to target the core.
13. Scissor Kicks
Scissor kicks target your lower abs. In order to get the most of this move, try moving your feet quickly without losing proper form.
14. Single Leg Circles
Pilates moves like this one help work your core, because it requires your ab muscles to hold you steady. You’ll find yourself tightening your lower abs the most when performing these half circles.
15. The Saw
The concept of the saw is similar to the concept of the standing wood chop. The twisting motion works your side abs and your transverse abdominals to cinch in your waist.