Hate Crunches? Try These 5 Alternatives Today for Real Results

No one actually likes crunches. Plus, they don’t actually help.

No really, hear me out.

person doing a crunch on a mat
Crunches suck, change my mind – Photo by Jonathan Borba

Sure you may like the results they give you, but laying on the ground basically just working your upper abs? Not worth it. Spot reduction is not true and doing crunches won’t reveal a six-pack.

There are better, more effective ab exercises that truly target your core in a way that builds strength, not just neck pain and a tiny bit of abs.

Here are 5 alternative moves for the abs that work even better than a crunch!

The Function of Abs in the Body

The abdominal muscles (abs) are the entire group of muscles lining the walls of your abdomen, the front of your body, and between your pelvis and ribs.

The abdominal muscles assist in breathing, support the spine, plays a role in balance, and keep your organs, such as the intestines, in place.

They do so by regulating abdominal pressure and allowing for the full range of movement.

Why Should We Workout Our Abs?

Getting and training abs doesn’t necessarily mean you get a six-pack, but it does ensure this muscle group is strong and supported.

In fact, many people will never have a six-pack, as it requires an intense combination of building muscle, bulking up, then shedding fat to risky low levels. 

Plus, some people just naturally store more fat in certain areas of the body.

The rectus abdominous, the part of the body that gives you a six-pack, needs to work together with other muscles in the body. As such, training them is highly important.

The Best Ab Exercises for Actual Results

Here are the top 5 moves for real results on your fitness journey!

Photo by Miriam Alonso

Plank Position (Long Lever Variation)

The long lever plank is a variation of a plank that is absolutely a full-body workout.

Before trying this workout position, make sure you build up to it. Practice normal forearm planks and make sure you are ready to make the exercise more intense.

Start at a normal forearm plank, with your elbows directly below your shoulders, feet extended.

Keeping your forearms planted where theta re, walk your feet back a couple of steps. This should cause your shoulders to be angled up slightly. Try to maintain a neutral back, and press your shoulders down.


Photo by Klaus Nielsen

Side Plank (Raising Up and Down)

This is a great exercise to fully target your obliques. They are hard to pinpoint, even with a standard plank.

You can start on easier variations, such as on your knees then extend into a full side plank.

To truly target the obliques, make sure you are raising your hips as much as possible, and hovering on the ground when you lower for constant tension and muscle activation. 

Photo by Lenin Estrada

Leg Lifts (Reverse crunch)

Leg lifts, also called a reverse crunch, can be done from the ground, without using a bar or pole to support you (as is the case with knee raises).

This workout will work other muscles in the entire midsection, incredibly important in supporting the trunk of the body.

You can modify this by doing a knee tuck or a bent leg raise.

Make sure to not arch your back, keeping tension in the abs by extending fully, and crunching the legs upwards.

Photo by Chris Yang

Knee Raise (Or Hanging Leg Raises)

Knee raises are similar to leg lifts, but they are usually done hanging from a pole, with your full body off the ground.

This is another exercise that works large groups of muscles and is important in supporting the body.

You can hang from a pull-up bar, rafter, or gymnastic rings, just ensure it is a safe, stable place. From a hanging position, raise your knees, tucking them in and contracting your abs.

You can up the difficulty by doing hanging bent leg raises, or hanging leg raises.

Photo by Anete Lusina

Boat Position

A boat pose is a position that works the entire body. It works the entire abs, drawing in towards your center.

Not only that, it can help strengthen hip flexors and can stretch the hamstrings.

Sit on the ground with legs in front of you, then lift them towards your chest, leaning back slightly, raising your arms towards your feet.

The Takeaway

You don’t need a sixpack to be healthy. In fact, six-packs may require dangerously low levels of body fat and may not be possible for individuals who naturally store fat in the abdominal area.

However, crunches ain’t it.

They work a small area of the abs and do not help you get a six-pack as there is no such thing as spot-reducing fat.

Try any of these ab exercises for real results, results that improve and celebrate what the body can do.

Remember, working out should never be a punishment for the body.

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