Time to stop doing crunches! They are not the most effective abs exercise. Other, better core exercises – such as these plank variations – help train side and back muscles to stabilize the spine and pelvis so you can avoid back pain and improve posture, and get a lean, flat, sexy belly. Here are 9 effective yet little know abs exercises you should start doing now.
1. Mountain Climbers
Mountain Climbers are a metabolism-boosting move. They burn calories and strengthen your core, hips, and thighs.
- Start off in a push-up position by flexing one knee in and pushing one leg behind you.
- Switch your legs quickly into same stance and repeat for 20-30 seconds.
- Return back to the starting position.
- Repeat this exercise for as many repetitions as needed
2. Med Ball Overhead Slams
Med Ball Overhead Slams are a full-body, multi-joint exercise that generates explosive power from your core.
- Start off standing up straight with your feet shoulder width apart and your arms behind your head holding a medicine ball.
- Raise the ball above your head fully extending your body and arms.
- With your force, slam the ball into the ground in front of you as hard as you can and follow through.
- With the follow through receive the ball from the bounce up.
3. Overhead Lunges
The Overhead Lunge builds lower body strength in the quads, glutes and core while improving balance and proprioception.
- Hold a weight plate, weighted bar, kettlebell, or dumbbells overhead, with your feet shoulder width apart and knees slightly bent.
- Keep the weight directly overhead (in line with the shoulder joint), and take a comfortable step forward in to a deep lunge position.
- Make sure your forward knee remains over your forward foot.
- Forcefully drive your forward heel in to the ground and return to the starting position.
Note: Maintain perfect posture throughout the movement — your head is level, your eyes are looking forward, your chest is held high and your back is flat. Don’t bend your elbows or let the weight sink during the movement.
Walkouts build strength in your anterior core and lats.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Bend your knees slightly (or more if needed) and place both hands flat on the ground.
- Keeping your legs extended and your feet planted, walk your hands away from your body, as far past your shoulders as you can, until you are in a full plank position.
- Hold for one count at the furthest point, and then walk your hands back to your feet and slowly return to standing.
5. Farmer Walks
Farmer Walks are surprisingly effective for the core – and they build grip and walking strength.
- Pick up one or two dumbbells, hold them by your sides and walk around your training area for a distance, or a time, like 60 seconds.
Note: You can also perform Farmer Walks carrying kettlebells or any other heavy object. Take care not to drop the weights on your toes when your hands get tired!
6. TRX Pike
The TRX Pike targets balance, stability and core strength. It is a very challenging core and abdominal exercise that also requires good upper body strength.
- Start in a push-up position with your feet in the TRX straps, your lower back flat and your hands directly under your shoulders.
- Using your abs, pull your body upwards into a pike position fully contracting your abs at the top.
- Lower your body down to the starting position using with full control and repeat.
7. Cable Standing Lift
The Cable Standing Lift is an excellent movement for the obliques and abs.
- Start off by connecting a cable to a low pulley cable machine, grabbing the cable with both hands and stand to the side of the machine with feet shoulder width apart.
- Slowly pull the handle up, extending through your hips and twisting your torso, and across your body until your arms are fully extended over your head.
- Hold this position for a count, squeezing your abs, then release back to the starting position.
8. Weighted Plank
The Plank is a simple yet extremely effective whole-body exercise. The Weighted Plank is a more difficult progression of the bodyweight plank by adding a weight plate.
- Position yourself onto your elbows and toes.
- Lift your hips off the floor forming a straight line from your shoulders to your feet. Raise your arms and squeeze your glutes.
- Have your training partner gently place the weight plate on your back. Do not let your hips sag with this additional weight.
- Hold this position for the time you need.
Note: Don’t put the weight on your lower back alone.
9. Alligator Drag
The Alligator Drag uses your entire core to keep your body stabilized and burns calories by adding movement.
- Find a stretch of floor that allows you to go forward 10 to 20 yards, and grab anything that will slide over the surface with minimal friction. Dinner plates or plastic bags work on a carpeted floor, while towels work on wood or tile.
- Start in pushup position with your feet on the slides, towels, or plates.
- Walk yourself forward with your hands to the end of your runway (aim for at least 10 yards). Rest for 60 to 90 seconds (or as long as you need to recover) and repeat the alligator walk back to where you started. That’s one set.
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