10 Crunch-Free Core Strengthening Exercises

When we think of working our abs, we often imagine lying down on the floor, performing crunch after crunch after crunch.

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However, traditional crunches are not necessarily the best way to get that toned, trim mid-section you’ve always wanted. Here, we show you how 10 crunch-free exercises to tone your tummy.

1. Planks

Planks strengthen your upper and lower abs, lower back and glutes.

  • Begin in a push-up position, but rest on your forearms rather than your hands. Keep your shoulders aligned with your wrists.
  • Engaging your abs, straighten your body so that your feet, hips and head are all in alignment.
  • Hold for 10 seconds to two minutes depending on your fitness level.

2. Twisting Plank

This variation intensifies a traditional plank.

  • In the plank position, rotate your body to the left, lifting your arm up and keeping your hips up off the ground. Hold for 20 seconds.
  • Return back to centre and do the same on the other side.
  • Proper form is crucial, so aim to keep your body straight as you twist.
  • Start with 10 twists and work your way up as you get stronger.

3. V-Sit And Twist

  • Position your body in a V-sit, with your legs up and bent, ankles crossed.
  • Hold a five-pound dumbbell or medicine ball and rotate the ball and torso to the left, back to center and to the right.
  • To increase core flexibility, tap the ball on the ground with each twist.
  • Keep your feet up and legs steady during this move. Do three 15 rep sets.

4. V Ups

This is one of the best core exercises for your lower obliques.

  • Lay on your back with knees up and your hands supporting your head and neck.
  • In one smooth movement, raise your shoulders off the ground while straightening out your your legs to a 45-degree angle. Keep your arms straight behind your head, so your body from a V shape. Be sure to keep your lower abs engaged as you keep your balance.
  • Hold for 3 to 5 seconds. Do 10 to 15 reps for 2 sets.

5. Donkey Kicks

  • Get on all fours, resting on your forearms and your shins.
  • Bring your left knee up to your chest as if you were touching your chin with your knee.
  • Now kick that leg straight back, keeping your foot flexed and squeezing your glutes.
  • Do this in one smooth motion – no jerking.
  • Don’t raise your back foot any higher than your hips. Do 8 reps on each leg.

6. Windshield Wipers

  • Lie down on your back, hollow out the lower abdominals and float your legs up with your knees bent.
  • Keeping your back flat on the floor, slowly
  • Holding a 3-5 pound dumbbell, extend your right leg to a straight 45-degree angle (same as V-sit).
  • With your shoulders off the ground, twist toward your bent left leg so that the dumbbell is on the outside of that leg.
  • As you twist to the other side, bend that leg and touch the dumbbell on the outside of that leg.
  • 8 reps on each side 4 times a week you will see noticeable results in 3 weeks!

7. Oblique Knee Crunch

  • Sit on a stability ball, walk yourself forward until your shoulders are on the edge of the ball and place your hand behind you for extra support. Feet should be hip-width apart.
  • Take one hand behind the head and left the opposite knee up.
  • Crunch like an oblique twist, and lay back as you straighten the leg out.
  •  Do 15 reps on each side.

8. Scale Pose

We borrowed this core muscle exercise from the yogis.

  • In a seated, cross-legged position, place your hands felt on the ground in line with your hips.
  • Straighten your arms and lift your body off the mat.
  • Hold for a count of 3 and lower yourself back down.
  • For beginners, try leaving your feet on the mat and raise just your hips.
  • As you get stronger you can advance to the full move. Three reps is plenty with this killer move!

9. V-Hold

  • Sit up nice and tall, feet flat on the mat.
  • Take your hands underneath your thighs, hinge back, scoop in those lower abs and lift your legs up so that they’re parallel to the floor.
  • Release the legs and stretch the arms towards the toes. Get into a V position, hands holding the backs of your bent knees.
  • Hold for eight breaths and do two more sets.

10. Superman Swims

  • Lay on your stomach and reach your arms out overhead and point the toes.
  • In one smooth move, “swim” your arms back to your sides while lifting your legs and chest 3 to 6 inches off the ground.
  • Hold for one breath and relax. Repeat for 6 to 8 reps.

There’s a lot more to building core strength than mere crunches. Make your core workout significantly more effective and efficient with these 10 core shredding, crunch-free moves. Aim to work your core three to four times per week with a rest day in between for optimal results.