10 Ways to Train Your Core Without Crunches

As the saying goes, “abs are built in the kitchen” though it never hurts to have a solid repertoire of core exercises to not only get stronger but also complement those six pack, nutritional efforts. As we get closer and closer to the midriff  baring months, here are 10 of my commonly used core exercises for both myself and clients.

Note: You won’t find a traditional crunch on this list. While many (ladies especially) associate the “burn” from crunches as an effective way to train the abs, the jury is out on whether crunches could hinder the integrity of our spine / disks with high volume, repetitive flexion. Because of this, you’ll find many coaches and trainers who utilize other methods to train strength, stability and overall performance through the core.

In no particular order:

1. Pallof Press – It’s always great to train on our feet as we’re usually operating / performing from a standing position. This is a great exercise for anti-rotation and sometimes I will utilize these in place of a side plank for clients as well.

2. Turkish Get Up – You’ve heard Molly and Neghar preach over TGUs enough. Tons of bang for your buck!

3. Body Saw – Don’t be fooled, a small movement yet a big challenge.

4. Rollouts – Different variations for rollouts whether using a stability ball, an ab wheel, a barbell or a heavy chain ;-) .

5. Stability Ball Knee Tucks – Chad Waterbury includes the push up in this example… go for it :)

6. Mountain Climbers – Again different variations whether choosing to use val slides under your feet and hands on the floor. I sometimes like to place my hands on a dynamax ball and drive my knees which can also include knee taps to the outside of your elbows and or across your body. In the video, provided by Coach Dos you’ll find the val slide variation within a complex at 0:27 seconds.

7. Alligator Crawl – These are tough enough without the sled! Master just your body weight first ;-) 25 yards up and back and your abs will be sizzling!

8. Half Kneeling Cable Rotations – Again, many choices for rotation from medicine ball wall toss, cable or band horizontal rotations, diagonal chops, but for the sake of selection, here is a great video by Bret Contreras which gives a slighly different variation that will also engage your glutes.

9. Dead Bug Variations – These look tame but again, don’t be fooled. Many who can muscle through various “strength” exercises have trouble with the small control / stability exercises such as dead bugs.

10. Hanging Leg Raise – Great for building strength in both abs and your grip.


Thank you to Tony GentilcoreNeghar FonooniChris FrankelJoe HasheyChad WaterburyCoach DosBen BrunoBret ContrerasBrendon Rearick and Precision Nutrition for providing quality demonstrations via youtube :)

About the Author: Alli Mckee

Alli is a certified strength and conditioning specialist based out of Baltimore, Maryland. She's contributed to and modeled for a number of major publications including Oxygen magazine and the New Rules of Lifting: Supercharged. You can find out more about Alli on her personal blog at www.allimckee.com.