We’ve been living a lie! Did you know that the basic ab crunch is NOT the most effective way to get toned abs?
Crunches don’t activate your core muscles to the extent that other exercises can, they can hurt your back, and the small motion doesn’t burn very many calories.
So why are you still doing crunches?
They may not be the most effective exercise, but until now, they’ve been the most convenient.
You don’t need equipment to bust out a few crunches, and you could do them at home, at the gym, at the park…anywhere! But let me ask you this; if you could get better results with exercises that are just as convenient a the ab crunch…would you use them? OF COURSE!
Better Than Crunches #1: The Plank
If you complete this exercise correctly, you will strengthen your neck, shoulders, arms, back, your ENTIRE core (not just your abs), your glutes, and your thighs… This is one of the reasons why the plank has become a very popular exercise, it works out nearly everything!
To perform a plank, place your forearms on the ground with your elbows aligned below your shoulders. Keep your arms shoulder-width apart and parallel to your body. Squeeze your core and pay attention to keeping your back flat.
Start at holding the plank for 10 seconds and work your way up to 1:00 min. Once you reach 1:00 min, it’s time to try more difficult variations of the plank!
Bonus Points: Focus on pulling your belly button in towards your spine and squeeze your glute muscles. Think of making your body as rigid as possible; NO SAGGING!
Better Than Crunches #2: Scissor Kick
Scissor Kicks will light your core on fire if you do them correctly. We’re not just talking about your abs here, you will be engaging core muscles that go much deeper than that!
To perform a scissor kick, lie with your back on the floor and your arms extended to the sides (palms facing down). With a slight bend in your knees, lift your legs so that your heels are about 6 inches off the ground.
Lift your left leg higher (to about a 45-degree angle) while lowering your right leg until your heel is about 2-3 inches from the ground. Switch movements by raising your right leg while lowering your left leg.
Do this for about 60 – 90 seconds.
Bonus Points: Squeeze your midsection and focus on keeping your lower back flat on the ground. Do not arch your back!
Better Than Crunches #3: V-Ups
You can totally get away with thinking of V-Ups as “next-level situps”! They’re tougher, they involve more of your body, and they look a lot more badass than crunches.
Make sure to use the bonus points below; you’ll find that your upper AND lower abs are engaged with this exercise.
To perform a v-up, lie down on your back and extend your arms straight behind your head. The back of your hands should lightly touch the floor while your palms face the ceiling. Keep your feet close together and lift your legs, keeping them straight at the same time that you raise your upper body off the floor and reach for your toes. Exhale and squeeze your abdominal muscles as you reach for your toes before slowly lowering yourself back down to the starting position.
Repeat a series of 12-20 repetitions.
Bonus Points: You’ll likely do this movement fast and explosively since it’s hard to do slowly. To really ramp up your progress though, try to go as slow and controlled as you can manage…especially while lowering your hands and feet. Also, when your hands and feet are in the lowered position, stretch your core as open as you can.
Better Than Crunches #4: Reverse Crunch
To perform a reverse crunch, lie on the floor with your legs up and bent 90 degrees (your thighs and knees will be pointing straight up and away from your body). Have your arms at your sides and on the floor. Keep your knees bent at a 90-degree angle and pull them into your chest so that your tailbone raises off of the ground. Focus on squeezing your abs to perform the movement and don’t use your hands or arms to push into the ground to help. Slowly lower your hips and legs to the starting position.
Repeat the movement for 12-20 repetitions while squeezing your abs and focusing on your breathing.
Bonus Points: This is NOT a leg or hip exercise, so don’t use focus on using those muscles. If you’re not feeling anything in your abdomen, you’re doing reverse crunches wrong. Take it slow, re-read the instructions, and focus on squeezing your abs and bringing your knees into your chest.
Better Than Crunches #5: Mason Twist
To perform a Russian twist, sit on the floor with your feet flat, knees bent at a 90-degree angle, and your upper body up off of the ground. Keep your hands interlocked in front of your midsection. Raise your feet off the ground then twist your torso to the right side until you can move your hands to the floor next to you. Slowly move back to the starting position. Repeat on the left side.
Repeat this for both sides for 60-90 seconds.
Bonus Points: Modify how upright you sit and how high you keep your legs to control how difficult this exercise is. You can do this movement quickly or slowly, but either way, do it right. Do NOT do this exercise if you have a back injury.
There you have it, 5 modern, results-driven abdominal exercises that you can perform anywhere! Aim to work your abs at least twice a week for the best results.
It’s worth noting that while strengthening your abs is a great way to tighten your waist, none of the amazing muscle tone will show if your body fat % is too high.
How do you reduce your body fat? Read our articles on this subject:
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