5 Core Exercises That Aren't Crunches

Written by Cori Lefkowith

By now we’ve all heard that we shouldn’t be doing crunches if we truly want a stronger core. Many of us have probably been told that we should be doing planks instead, but planks can get boring.

It's fun to mix things up and include some bodyweight crunchless core exercises in your workout routine. These moves will work your entire core—everything from your shoulders to your knees down to your backside. Try these five bodyweight crunchless core exercises.

1. Downward Dog Abs

Photo by Cori Lefkowith

Start in the downward dog position. Then raise one leg back and up toward the ceiling. Bring that raised leg back down and tuck your knee in toward your chest as you shift your weight forward into a front plank. Try to get your body in a nice straight line and your shoulders over your hands as you drive your knee in toward your elbows.

Raise your leg back up and push back into downward dog. Repeat the knee drive, driving your knee straight in toward your chest, toward the outside of the same elbow or across your body toward your opposite elbow. Changing the angle of the knee drive hits your core from different angles. Raise your leg back up and repeat or switch sides.

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2. Sit Thrus

Photo by Cori Lefkowith

This is a great core exercise to work your obliques, quads, shoulders, and arms.

Start on your hands and knees with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hip, feet flexed. Lift up onto your hands and the balls of your feet.

Then kick one leg under your body and through toward your opposite hand as you lift your opposite hand. Rotate all the way through as you kick your leg under your body and out straight so that you are sitting through. Bring your leg back under and through as you place your hand back down and return to the starting position position on your hands and the balls of your feet.

Then kick your other leg under and through to sit through on the other side. Move as quickly as you can back and forth from sit thru to sit thru.

3. Superman Banana

Photo by Cori Lefkowith

Work the front and back of your core with this move to strengthen your abs, quads, back, and glutes.

Lie on your back with your legs out straight on the ground and your arms reaching overhead and your biceps by your ears. Then engage your abs and press your low back into the ground as you crunch your upper body up and lift your legs a few inches off the ground. This is the banana part of the exercise.

Keeping your arms and lower legs up off the ground, roll over onto your stomach. Try not to push off with your hands or feet to roll over. Keep your chest and legs as high up off the ground as you can and squeeze your glutes to protect your low back. This is Superman. Then roll back over to banana. Roll back and forth between the two moves.

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4. Side Plank With Leg Raise

Photo by Cori Lefkowith

Strengthen your obliques, shoulders, back, and glutes with this move.

Set up on your side, propped up on your forearm with your elbow right below your shoulder and your legs out straight. Stack your feet and then drive through your forearm and the side of your bottom foot to lift your hip up off the ground as high as possible while keeping your body in a nice straight line. Brace your core and engage your glutes. Don’t rotate your chest forward toward the ground or touch your top hand down.

Then, holding the side plank, lift your top leg up toward the ceiling while keeping your bottom hip up. Lift the leg up and then lower back down and repeat. Don’t rotate your top leg open or swing it just to get it up higher.

5. Posterior Plank

Photo by Cori Lefkowith

The posterior plank is a great core move to really target your backside while still working your abs.

Sit on the ground with your legs out straight and feet together while your hands are on the ground behind your butt with your fingertips pointing toward your glutes. Then drive through your hands and heels to bridge up and raise your hips up off the ground toward the ceiling

Keep your legs straight and press your chest out as you bridge up and squeeze your glutes. Lean your head back and feel your core and backside working. Then lower back down and repeat.

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