Not only may you be sick of the same old crunch workouts, but they’re just not as effective as many other exercises. With crunches and sit-ups, you target a very small group of muscles, without using any other muscles in the process (compound movements). Yet compound movements are the most effective. Here are a few core exercises that will help to tone your abs, your arms and your legs, all at the same time.
Plank is considered one of the most effective ab exercises by many health and fitness professionals, and for good reason. Planks work the transverse abs (TA), ones that you can’t see in the form of a six-pack; but that doesn’t mean they’re not critical to a svelte look.
“Aesthetically, a strong TA won’t produce the abdominal crevices, caverns, and undulations characteristic of a six-pack, per se, but rather it sucks the midsection into a tight, compact, slender package. It’s essentially the body’s corset—a strong TA naturally compresses the girth of the stomach,” says Brian DiSanto of LeanitUp.com. If you keep a neutral spine through all the exercises, you’ll reap the most benefits.
Standard: Get into push-up position and then move down onto your forearms. This is a standard plank position from which you’ll do all the variations.
Up down: From the standard position, go up onto your hands and then back down. Each time you go up, alternate which side you start on. Do this 10 to 20 times and then rest.
Fly: From the standard position lift one arm off the ground and fly it out in front of you. Alternate back and forth. Make it harder: you can lift your leg on the opposite side at the same time or hold a weight in the hand you’re lifting.
Mountain climbers: Get into standard position and move up to your hands, so you’re in pushup position. Tuck your knee into your chest, put your leg back to starting position and then do the same with the other leg. This is supposed to be a quick movement, so when your form is correct, see how many you can do in 30 seconds, 1 minute, etc.
This simple workout takes minimal effort and provides maximum results. Sit down and lean back so your body is at a 45-degree angle and you can feel your abs contracting. Tap a medicine ball back and forth on either side of your torso, hitting the ground each time. Make it harder: Left your feet off the ground.
Get your heart pumping with this cardio move that blasts your abs too. From regular standing position, jump your right leg out, tucking your left leg behind. As you pull your left leg behind, reach down and touch your right foot with your left hand. Do the same on the other side, never returning to center.