5 ab exercises that are better than crunches


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When it comes to strengthening and sculpting your core, it’s time to think outside the crunch box. “It’s your center pillar, the powerhouse of your body,” says Brynn Jinnett, founder of the Refine Method. “Strengthening it will enable you to work harder in your exercise classes and move more safely throughout your day.”

Jinnett shares some of her favorite functional core strengtheners that are way smarter than crunches. Aim for 10 reps of each and you’ll be able to beast your way through Barry’s in no time.

Keep your core workout fresh by adding in these 5 expert-approved exercises.

1. Sliding pike

Start in plank position with your feet on sliding discs. (At home, you can use anything that slides—a dish towel, slipper socks, etc.) Use your core to slowly slide your feet in towards your hands—think about pulling your glutes up to the ceiling. Then using control and your abs, slide back out.

2. Plank with open-and-close legs

Start in plank, and slide your feet out wide and back in while keeping your back flat and your abs activated. Your legs are the only moving parts.

3. Sliding forearm plank

Place the sliding discs under your forearms and start in a forearm plank with your back flat. Slide each forearm out and back, one at a time.

4. Kettlebell stand-and-kneel

Hold a kettlebell (or a water jug) over your head, and stand with your feet hip-width apart. Tighten your core and slowly lower onto one knee and then the other, and then stand back up in the same way.

5. Resistance band raise

Attach a resistance band to a door or another secure anchor. Stand with your feet wider than your hips, with the band to one side. Grasp the band with your hands together and extend your arms straight out in front of you, activating your abs all the while. Next, bend your elbows and move your fists in towards your chest. Then, raise your fists up over your head (pictured). Lower back to the starting position with your arms extended in front of you, and start again.

Originally published May 13, 2012; updated August 8, 2018.

Ah, the perks of core work: Strong abs can help you master a handstand and stave off bloating.

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