8 Best Ab Exercises That Aren’t Crunches

We always see that when it comes to ab training most guys and girls keep doing crunches over and over again with the only variety being when they use an ab machine at the gym. As you can imagine, doing the same exercise every time for weeks and months is not an effective way to train any muscle. Much less when it comes to crunches (and that includes situps too) that aren’t very effective to train your abs at all.

Luckily there is a lot more to ab training than crunches and sit-ups and there are literally hundreds of exercises to choose from. It’s a wonder why so many folks are so focused on crunches only. Today, we’ll give you some of our favorite ab exercises that are much more effective than crunches.

Hanging Leg Raises

Hanging leg raises might just be the best exercise for the abs. It can be performed at different levels of difficulty depending on your level of fitness and it hits your entire core as few other exercises do. To perform, hang from a pull-up bar, contract your abs and lift your legs straight up. The complete rep consists of raising your legs up to the bar, but you can top midway if it’s too difficult. Even easier variation is the knee raise, where you raise the legs bent at the knees. You can add twists or weights to leg raises as well. Whatever level or variation you choose, this is a great exercise to work your abs in just a few reps

Ab Wheel Rollouts

Think about ab wheel exercises as an advanced version of the plank. You have to keep your core rigid in order to keep the balance and there’s the movement to roll out. There are many variations to ab wheel rollouts so you have the ability to hit your entire core in different ways. The variety is what makes the ab wheel so great.


Planks provide you with isometric training which is crucial to training the stability of your core. Most ab workouts include some variation in the plank and for good reason. The plank is performed by keeping your body suspended in a vertical position and the level of difficulty depends on the position of your limbs that support the stability (or lack thereof) of the core. Somebody’s movement can be involved in some variations of the plank too.

Cable Rotation

Using the cable machine or resistance bands provides resistance for body rotational movements which are essential to training the obliques. To perform, keep your hands straight in front of your body at about shoulder level. Pull the cable by turning to the side while keeping your arms straight and fixed, your abs contracted. Move it back in slow controlled motion and repeat to the other side for a full rep.

Landmine Twist

Landmine twist is an upper body exercise but there’s so much involvement of the core that it definitely makes it an ab exercise too. As a compound exercise, it can get your heart racing pretty fast so it’s great to increase the workout intensity. To perform, pick the barbell up, standing upright, feet shoulder-width apart, and swing it to the side by rotating your body. Repeat it to the other side for a full rep. Make sure you contract your abs and engage the core throughout the movement.

Medicine Ball Russian Twist

This exercise will really get your abs and obliques burning. Sit down on the floor and lift your feet off the ground, set your back slightly backwards so you end up balancing on your glutes. Your abs and core will be working to keep this position. Now take a medicine ball or a different weight and twist your body to the sides to work the obliques.

Swiss Ball Pikes

Another great abs and core stability training exercise is the Swiss ball pike. To perform, put your feet on the Swiss ball and plant your hands to the floor. Now roll the ball forward by moving your hips up and focusing on ab contraction. You can work the obliques too, if you add twisting movement to the exercise.

V-Up Swiss Ball Pass

This exercise works on your ab and core strength as well as coordination. To perform, lie on the floor on your back, keep the feet shoulder width apart but lift them off the ground, and keep the abs contracted. Take the Swiss ball and keep it over your head, now lift your back off the floor and lift your feet higher to place the ball between your legs. Reverse the movement for a full rep.

Use some or all of these exercises in your ab workout routines, change things up and add variety, and you’ll see how your ab training results will really start to pick up the momentum.

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