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21 Incredibly Effective Abs Exercises You Can Do Instead Of Crunches

Skip the crunches and two-minute plank holds and try these 21 effective abs exercises instead. These moves will strengthen your entire core as well as add a little variety to your regular abs routine.

1. Plank Taps

PLANK TAPS

Whitney Thielman

Start in high plank with your feet hip-distance apart.

Then tap each hand to the opposite shoulder while engaging your core and glutes to keep the hips as still as possible.

2. Down Dog Taps

DOWN DOG TAPS

Whitney Thielman

Start in down dog.

Lift your right hand off the floor and reach toward your left ankle (gently tapping the front of your foot or ankle if possible).

Return right hand to the floor and repeat with the opposite arm. Stay in Down Dog throughout the entire exercise.

3. Plank Ups

Plank Ups

Whitney Thielman

Start in high plank. Bend one arm to bring the elbow and forearm to the floor.

Bring the other arm down so you are in a forearm plank.

Push back up to the start position, placing each hand where your elbows were.

Repeat this movement, alternating which side you lower first with each rep.

4. Warrior Balance

WARRIOR

Whitney Thielman

Stand on your left foot and lift your right knee to hip height in front of your body.

Reach your torso forward as you extend your right leg behind you. Keep your standing leg slightly bent as your torso becomes parallel with the floor. Extend your arms overhead to help with balance.

Pause for a second, then reverse the movement. Don’t forget to do both sides!

5. Plank With T Rotation

PLANK T ROTATION

Whitney Thielman

Start in high plank with your feet hip-distance apart.

Now rotate your entire body to the right into a side plank with your shoulder above your wrists.

Extend your right arm to the ceiling and continue to drive your hips up.

Return to center position, then repeat on the opposite side.

6. Reverse Lunge With Front Twist

REVERSE LUNGE FRONT TWIST

Whitney Thielman

Start standing with feet hip-width apart.

Take a big step back with left foot and bend knees to lower into lunge while twisting torso over right (front) leg.

Return to standing, then repeat with the opposite leg.

While this GIF shows the exercise using a dumbbell, you can ditch the weight, too!

7. Plank + Dolphin

PLANK DOLPHIN

Whitney Thielman

Start in forearm plank with arms parallel to each other and palms flat on the floor.

Lift hips up and back creating an inverted “V” with your body.

Pause then slowly lower back to your forearm plank.

8. Down Dog Abs

Down Dog

Whitney Thielman

Start in down dog and lift your right leg into the air, this is your down dog split position (also known as three-legged down dog).

Bring your right knee under your torso. Pause then extend right leg back to down dog split.

Now bring your right knee to meet your right elbow. Pause then extend right leg back to down dog split.

Finally bring your right knee to meet your left elbow. Pause then extend right leg back to down dog split. Make sure you do both sides.

9. V-Up

V UP

Whitney Thielman

Lie face up with arms and legs extended and resting on the floor.

Keep abs tight and lift hands and feet to meet over torso.

Lower your arms and legs back to the floor.

10. Plank Jacks

Plank jacks

Whitney Thielman

Start in high plank.

Keeping your core engaged, jump your feet out and in (like jumping jacks).

If your wrists bother you, try this move on your forearms, like this.

11. Mountain Climber

MOUNTAIN CLIMBER

Whitney Thielman

Start in high plank and draw your right knee under your torso, keeping the toes off the ground.

Return your right foot to starting position.

Switch legs and bring your left knee under your chest. Keep switching legs as if you’re running in place.

12. Mountain Climber Twist

MOUNTAIN CLIMBER TWISTS

Whitney Thielman

Start in high plank with your wrists directly under shoulders.

Bring right knee under torso and toward left elbow.

Now bring your right foot back to starting position while you repeat with the opposite foot.

13. Plank Hops

BUNNY HOP

Whitney Thielman

Begin in high plank with the feet together.

Tighten abs, and jump your feet to the right, bringing your knees toward your right elbow.

Jump your feet back to plank and repeat on the opposite side.

14. Bird Dog Crunch

BIRD DOG CRUNCH

Whitney Thielman

Start on your hands and knees in tabletop position with your wrists above your shoulders and your knees below your hips.

Inhale and extend your right arm forward and left leg back, maintaining a flat back and square hips.

Squeeze your abs and exhale as you draw your right elbow to your left knee.

Extend back out to start. Don’t forget to do both sides.

15. Lateral Plank Walk

lateral plank walk

Whitney Thielman

Start in high plank with shoulders above your wrists and abs tight.

Step right foot and right hand to right side immediately following with left foot and left hand.

Take a few “steps” in one direction, then walk in the opposite direction.


16. Forearm Side Plank With Twist

FOREARM SIDE PLANK ELBOW TWIST

Whitney Thielman

Come into a forearm side plank on your left side with your left elbow resting on the floor below your shoulder. Place your right arm behind your head.

Rotate your torso toward the floor, bringing your right elbow to meet your left hand.

Don’t let your hips drop. And remember to do both sides!

17. Core Roll Up

PILATES ROLL UP

Whitney Thielman

Lie face up on mat with arms resting on floor above head.

Float arms up so wrists are directly over shoulders, and begin to curl your spine up and off the floor.

Fold over legs, forming a “U” shape with body. Reverse movement to lower back to mat.

18. Boat Pose

BOAT POSE

Whitney Thielman

Sit with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Grasp your legs under your thighs, slightly above your knees.

Lean back slightly. Lift your feet off the floor so that your shins are parallel to the floor.

Extend your arms straight out in front of your at shoulder height, with palms facing up.

Straighten and raise your legs toward the ceiling until your body forms a V shape (as shown). Hold this position for 10-20 seconds.

19. The Hundred

PILATES 100

Whitney Thielman

Lie faceup with your legs raised, knees bent 90 degrees.

Inhale, then exhale, lifting head and shoulders off mat. Extend your legs and lift your arms off the mat at shoulder height with your palms facing down.

Inhale as you pump arms up and down five times, then exhale and pump five more times. Do 10 times, for 100 pumps.

20. Scissor Switch

PILATES SCISSOR SWITCH

Whitney Thielman

Start on your back with your legs straight and arms reaching over head.

Extend the right leg as you curl up off the shoulder blades and reach for the calf or thigh. Staying in a curled position, switch legs.

21. Forearm Side Plank

FOREARM SIDE PLANK

Whitney Thielman

Start on your left side with your left elbow below your left shoulder and your feet stacked.

Lift your hips into the air. Keep your right knee on the floor for balance if needed.

Continue to press hips up while keeping your core tight. Don’t forget to do both sides.

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Written by Gavril Vadik

Gavril writes and copyedits for a variety of people, publications, and organizations.

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