Crunches seem to be everyone’s go-to ab exercises for a flat stomach and toned midsection. But let’s be honest, crunches are a thing of the past.
Crunches target the superficial muscles in the midsection. The deeper muscles, known as the transverse abdominis, require different exercises for a serious core workout.
The transverse abdominis runs horizontally from your spine to the front, across your abdominals. They engage in almost all body movements. They provide stability for your spine and therefore require full body exercises to activate.
This workout is designed to target those deep core muscles to strengthen and tone your midsection from the deepest muscles outward.
Rotate a move or two of these exercises into your daily workout routine, or complete this entire workout to build strength and stability in your abs.
What doesn’t a burpee work, honestly? This ultimate full-body exercise really revs up core engagement, working and strengthening the abs. Start by standing with feet hip-distance apart. Lower into a deep squat, bringing your hands to the floor, shoulder-width apart. Engaging your abs, jump your feet back into a plank. This is where the strength of those abs comes in, so make sure your hips don’t drop. Use those lower abs to jump the feet back into your deep squat and stand or jump back up. Perform 10-15 burpees.
This exercise is amazing at targeting the obliques. Hold a dumbbell or kettlebell in your RIGHT hand, with the weight directly over your RIGHT shoulder. Feet should be wider than shoulder-width apart and your LEFT knee and toes turned out. Hinging at your hips, and pressing your hips to the RIGHT, slide your LEFT hand down the inside of your LEFT leg. Using your RIGHT side obliques, press back up, keeping your shoulder stable. Complete 15 repetitions and then repeat on the LEFT side.
Twisting Mountain Climbers
These mountain climbers not only get your heart rate up, but will tone your abdominals and really target the obliques. Starting in a full plank position on your hands, use your lower abs to drive the RIGHT knee in towards the chest, then twist the knee over to the LEFT elbow, using the obliques. Quickly place the RIGHT foot back to the plank and repeat, bringing the LEFT knee to the RIGHT elbow. Complete this exercise for 30-60 seconds.
This full-body exercise will really tone the arms and back, but also requires a great amount of core strength. Start in a plank position holding dumbbells in your hands. Your feet can be about shoulder-width apart for a more stable base. Engaging the abs to prevent the hips from moving too much, row the RIGHT arm up, bringing the weight to the shoulder. Lower the weight back down and repeat with the LEFT arm. The goal is to keep the hips as steady as possible. Complete 20 repetitions alternating side to side.
Again, this full-body workout will tone the arms, but the abs are the support system for this exercise. Begin in a plank on your elbows with feet shoulder-width apart. Starting with the RIGHT side, lift the elbow up and place the hand where the elbow was. Press through the RIGHT arm to raise up to a full plank on your hands and straighten the left arm. Lower back down to the elbows by placing the RIGHT elbow back in the place on the hand, and follow with the left arm. Repeat for 10 repetitions leading with the RIGHT arm, then switch and complete 10 with the left.
This crunchless ab exercise really focuses on those lower abs, but as you perform this exercise you will feel all over those abs and even feel the muscles in the back help stabilize your torso. Lay on your back and raise your legs into the air. With control, lower your legs towards to floor but keep the lower back glued to the mat. You don’t have to go down too far, just be sure to keep the abdominals engaged. Use the lower abs to pull those legs back up. Repeat for 10-15 repetitions.
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By adding these moves into your workout routine, you will see results in strength and muscle activation in your core. You’ll never go back to boring crunches again, once you see the benefits of these exercises.
(Your Next Workout: 10 Ways to Get Six Pack Abs)