Six exercises that are better than crunches for a rock solid core

They'll also improve your stability and balance

Man doing the plank
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Crunches can be great if you’re looking to get washboard abs. But when it comes to core strength, there’s a bigger and better bunch of exercises that you can choose from, that also won’t have you trying to lift up and down off the floor repeatedly  – like this six-move workout. Not only are all the exercises performed standing or kneeling, but you won’t need any equipment either, just a few household items.

So why aren’t crunches better? According to University Hospital crunches tend to only isolate and work a small religion of your abdominal and core muscles, such as the rectus abdominis, internal and external obliques. Our core, however, also includes our pelvis, lower back and hips. Harvard Health says dynamic patterns of movement - like the plank - are better to strengthen our entire set of core muscles, which will help our body become more stable and balanced. (Although, FYI, the workout below doesn't include any planking.)

This workout is a mixture of standing and kneeling ab exercises, all of which are excellent for your core, because they challenge your stability more and encourage better posture. Equipment-wise, either grab a water bottle with a handle, a small backpack or, if you have a pair of dumbbells or a single kettlebell, feel free to use that. Not sure how to do the exercises below? Take a quick look at the video above. Here's your workout:

Complete three rounds of the below:

  • Overhead marches - 10 reps each side
  • Around the worlds - 10 reps
  • Kneeling chop - 10 reps each side
  • Halo rock backs - 8 reps
  • High march - 12 reps
  • Bear pull through - 10 reps

We hope you found this workout a lot more effective, and less mundane, than doing a ton of crunches. If you found it a little long, try this short standing workout instead, it only has three exercises. Otherwise, if you fancy something a little more challenging, give this dumbbell standing ab workout a go - it's only four exercises, but will leave your midsection on fire!

Bryony Firth-Bernard
Staff Writer, Active

Bryony’s T3’s official ‘gym-bunny’ and Active Staff Writer, covering all things fitness. In her spare time, you will find her in her natural habitat - the gym - where her style of training is a hybrid of bodybuilding and powerlifting. Bryony loves writing about accessible workouts, nutrition and testing innovative fitness products that help you reach your fitness goals and take your training to the next level.