If you’re interested in building your best physique yet, one area that you’ll definitely want to focus on is your core. Having strong abs is not only important as far as aesthetics are concerned, but also because a strong core is going to help support you in every single exercise that you do.
If your core is lacking, you won’t be able to press as much weight on other major exercises, thus your performance may be hindered.
Furthermore, you’ll also be at a higher risk for injury, which could eventually take you out of the game completely.
If the thought of doing an endless number of crunches bores you, however, not to worry. Some of the best ab exercises are completely crunch-free.
Let’s look at the top non-crunch movements that’ll bring you stronger abs.
When it comes to strengthening your core, few exercises are as beneficial as the plank. An isometric movement, this exercise will have you holding the position for 30-60 seconds (or longer) and will target all the muscle fibers deep within the core, as well as the upper body to some degree as well.
If the regular plank gets too easy, not to worry. You can advance this movement by lifting one leg up or positioning the feet or arms on an exercise ball.
This will destabilize the body, forcing your abs to contract harder than ever to keep you balanced.
Finally, if you want to get a little fat burning in, try some mountain climbers. This bodyweight cardiovascular exercise is great for hitting the core provided you think of using the core muscles to activate the movement pattern.
As you drive each leg into the body to complete a rep of the mountain climber, think of contracting the abs as you pull the leg into you.
Keep contracting as you alternate the legs, going for 15-20 reps per set.
The next non-crunch ab exercise to consider is the renegade row. Designed to target the back muscles, this one also works the core to a large degree as the abs will contract to keep you balanced on top of the dumbbells.
Place two dumbbells on the floor, positioning the hands holding on to each one directly beneath the shoulders. The legs should be extended behind you. Now, simply lift one dumbbell up and row it into the body as you would a single arm row.
Once as high as you can go, pause and then lower. Now repeat to the other side.
As you do this, you should feel the abs contracting hard with each movement.
Single Leg Split Squats
One of the best non-direct ways to work the core muscles is through exercises performed on just a single leg. As soon as you reduce your base of support, you’re going to require stronger core activation to keep the entire body balanced.
Add weight to this and you’ll really have an intense workout in no time.
The single leg split squat is an excellent choice here. They’ll work your hamstrings, quads, and glutes, while bringing the core into play.
If you notice that you’re adopting a forward lean while doing this exercise, this is a good sign your core is weak and needs to be strengthened. Those with a strong core should be able to hold their body upright as they lower down.
Bosu Ball Squats
If you want to work both your abs as well as your agility, bosu balls squats are an exercise to consider. While you won’t break strength records doing these as they’ll be performed (usually) with bodyweight alone, they will work well to strengthen the ligaments and tendons running up and down the lower leg and into the ankle, which then may give you a boost as you perform your heavy weight squats.
Because you will be so unstable while standing on top of the bosu ball, this will bring your core into play as well.
Once regular bodyweight squats become easy on the bosu ball, graduate to doing single leg bosu squats instead.
So there you have a few of the top non-crunch ab exercises to include in your workout program. If you focus on adding plenty of compound, heavy weighted exercises in your routine, you should find that you develop superior core strength without having to spend time on the crunch mats each and every week.