It's not news that traditional crunches aren't the end-all-be-all of abs workouts—sure, they target your superficial (most surface level) abdominal muscles, and doing a million of them will make you feel like you got socked in the stomach by Conor McGregor. But to dig past the surface and build a truly strong core, it's gonna take more than those neck-straining, mind-numbing crunches.
Thankfully, the ways you can spice up your core workouts are pretty much infinite, and they don't all have to look like something out of a Kama Sutra playbook. These are a few of my favorite variations on the dreaded crunch—they're simple enough that you can pick a couple to add into your daily routine, or you can put them all together for a full-out, ab-burning workout.
Try the following moves for two or three rounds of 15-20 reps. And no, doing this on the beach doesn't make it any easier, but jumping in the ocean afterward is a sweet reward.
- Lying on your right side, roll back onto the meaty part (yep) of your hip with your right arm bent for support and your left arm overhead.
- Bring your legs together and slide them a few inches in front of you. Exhale, engage your core, and lift your legs and left arm to meet at a 45-degree angle.
- Bend your knees and elbow toward your chest to crunch.
- Bring the knees back together, extend the legs, and lower to hover. Repeat for 15-20 reps, then switch to your left side.
- Start by lying on your back with your hands on the ground by your sides.
- Tuck your knees in toward your chest as you slightly lift your hips off the floor.
- As you lower, extend your legs long to hover off the ground. If you feel your low back arching, slide your hands under your butt for a little extra stability!
- Starting on your back, bend your left knee to 90 degrees and extend your right leg long.
- Press through your left heel to lift your hips and extended right leg off the ground.
- Bend your right knee toward your head, keeping hips elevated.
- Re-extend your right leg, then lower the leg and hips down in one straight line. Try 15-20 reps, then switch legs.
- Start in a high plank position with hands directly under your shoulders.
- Keeping a strong plank, bring your right knee toward your right elbow to crunch.
- Step the right foot back and repeat for 15-20 reps before switching to the left side. Note: You can take this one to the next level by adding a push-up as you draw your knee toward your elbow!
Standing Side Crunches
- From standing, step your right leg out about a foot or two.
- Reach your right arm overhead and lean slightly to the left.
- Raise your right knee and bend your right elbow to meet at rib-height. Repeat for 15-20 reps, then switch sides.
Katie Dunlop is the creator of Love Sweat Fitness. Katie turned her personal fitness journey into a brand and supportive community with more than 500K+ members and more than 13M+ YouTube views. As a NASM certified trainer, Katie created the Hot Body Guides using the same formula she used herself to lose more than 45 lbs. Most recently, she created the Guiltless Nutrition Lifestyle & Recipe Book as a way to continue to share her tips to stay fit and still have fun with her Team LSF babes.