If you had been there, you would have seen my mouth drop open.
Ok…yea we never really do any “ab crunches,” but we don’t need to!
We work our abs, our whole core, with like 90% of the moves we do!
So what did I do when she asked me for crunches?
I came up with these “10 Crunchless Core Moves” that are better at strengthening your core so you can move well and remain injury-free and getting you six-pack abs than any crunches could ever hope to be.
To perform this move, start on your hands and knees. Tuck your toes under and lift up onto your hands and toes. Kick your left leg through, lifting your right hand as you “sit.” Do not let your body get too spread out. Try to keep everything close in that “crawl” or bull dog position. If you need to make the move easier, you can straighten out into more of a plank.
2. Crawls – Set up on your hands and knees. Your hands should be under your shoulders and your knees should be under your hips. Tuck your toes under and lift up onto your hands and feet. Move forward with the opposite arm and leg moving together.
Do not worry about whether or not your legs are straight. Focus on getting a nice straight line from the heel of your palms up your arms and back and to your tailbone. Once you’ve mastered the move from the ground, put your feet on a bench or chair. Finally move to a wall. From there you can even do one arm handstands with taps, lateral walking and even walking in or out. This progression will help you master the free-standing handstand.
4. Front Squat – A great move because you work a large muscle group (your legs) and really work on your core’s ability to brace. When you front load a weight, your core has to work hard to prevent you from failing over while holding the weight – your core has to work hard to brace. To perform a front squat, hold a weight up at your chest. You can use a barbell, kettlebell or dumbbell. Squat down, sitting back on your heels. Do not let your chest fall forward or your back round.
5. Good mornings – Whereas the front squat is a more quad-dominate move, the good morning is a more glute-dominate, front-loaded move. A great way to work your core and one of the biggest muscles in your body! Hold a weight at your chest (sandbag, dumbbell, kettlebell). Hinge forward at the hips. Your knees should be soft (slightly bent) and your back should remain flat as you hinge over as far as you can. You should feel a stretch down your hamstrings and glutes. Then, driving through your heels, come back to standing straight up. Squeeze your glutes at the top.
6. Bag Carries – One of the most functional moves and a great way to work on bracing and core strength. To do this move, pick up a heavy and slightly award bag. Sandbags, heavy bags or even loaded backpacks can all work.
Bear hug the bag and carry it around for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Make sure your core is tight and your glutes are engaged. You shouldn’t feel this in your low back.
7. Glute Bridge and Curl – Our core is about more than just working our abs – it is also about working our glutes. The glute bridge and curl is a great move to help us do this WHILE also working our core stabilizing systems. This move can be done on valslides, towels, power wheel, physioball or TRX strap. To do this move, set with your feet on top of the valslides/wheel/ball or straps.
Legs are out straight. Raise your hips off the ground squeezing your glutes as hard as you can. Then curl your heels in toward your butt, raising your hips up even higher toward the ceiling until you are in a glute bridge. Then slide your feet back out. Keeping your hips off the ground. The more unstable the equipment you use, the more you will work your core. You can also do this as a single leg bridge and curl if you want to make it harder or as just a simple glute bridge if you want to make it easier.
8. Anti-Rotational Press and Pull – Pull ups, push ups and inverted rows all work your core! A great way to make them even more challenging is by doing a single arm pull or push so that you have to fight rotating. You can do a single arm press with either dumbbells or bands to really work your core. You have to fight against rotating as you do the press. Same goes for the single arm anti-rotational row. You have to fight against letting your body rotate open as you row.
Set up in a high plank position on your hands and feet. Feet can be about hipwidth or shoulder-width apart. You can either do a lateral pull or a front pull.
In a front pull, you will pull the chain back toward your feet, really using your lat to pull down. In the lateral pull, you will pull the weight across your body.
Fight against allowing your hips to rotate as you pull. To make this move easier, go down to your knees and hold a plank.
10. Farmers Walk – A great way to work on grip and core strength. You can either carry a weight on both sides or do a unilateral carry. Both have great benefits. To do a farmers walk or carry, grab heavy dumbbells. Keep your core tight and your shoulders down and back. Walk back and forth or for an allotted amount of time. The heavier the weights you use, the more challenging the move. Using fat grips can also make the move more challenging for your grip. A unilateral carry can also be a great way to make your core work to fight rotation since you will walk to either lean to the side with the weight or lean to far the other way to compensate.
Next time you go workout, don’t waste time on crunches! Work your core with these compound movements and get double the results in half the time!
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If you are looking to challenge your core in new ways or achieving other fitness goals, set up a free trial today.