african woman doing series of crunch in gymLet’s just be honest, crunches are boring and painful. But the reward! Who among of us wouldn’t want to stop sucking in that tummy? Maybe we can. Here are five ways beyond crunches to hit your whole torso. Do these for several weeks and you’re likely to start saying that sucking in your gut is a habit you used to know.

Dumbbell Crossover Punch – Get your weights out for this (5lbs is a good start). Lie on your mat or towel with your back straight, knees bent and feet flat on the mat. While keeping your elbows on the floor hold a weight in each hand at your chest. Roll up to sitting and then twist left and punch or extend your right arm fully beyond your left knee. Bring your arm and torso back to center. Return to the mat and roll up to sitting again, this time twisting to the right and extending your left arm. Check that off as one rep and go for ten more.

Leg lifts – Lie flat on your back with arms extended in a “T” shape. Keeping your legs straight lift them together so that your toes extend toward the ceiling. Slowly lower your legs until they are about six inches from the floor. Hold as long as you can before lifting again toward the ceiling.

Abdominal Hold – Get a sturdy chair and get a grip for great abs. Sit tall on the edge of the chair. Grasp the edge with fingers pointing toward your feet. Lift your feet a few inches from the floor and lift your bottom from the seat. You bottom should be hovering above the chair and your body fully supported only by your arms. Hold for as long as you can before lowering. Repeat for one minute.

Kick Crunch – Technically, this is a kind of a crunch, but you get to stand up and this one is a lot less torturous than the one that typically comes to mind when the word crunch comes up. Give it a try. You can even do it while you’re waiting for the microwave. Stand tall with feet shoulder width apart. Exhale and kick your left leg up and out. Reach for your left toes with your right hand. Return foot to the floor and repeat on the other side. That counts as one rep – go for 15 more.

Side view of a muscular couple doing planking exercisesPlanks – Lie face down on your mat or towel. Position yourself as if planning for a push-up. Feet should be resting on the toes, spine straight, extended arms resting on flat palms or elbows with forearms extended. From the side your body will look like a board or plank. Hold your body in this position as long as you can. As you build strength try to hold for one minute.

Do you really want to stop sucking in your gut or wearing garments that do the work for you? Try these exercises for a difference you can see – Finally, a chance to exhale.