Lots of people focus their workout routines on strengthening their core, especially considering your ab muscles play such a huge role in your overall strength, balance, and stability. But if you're anything like me, crunches are the bane of your existence. They're not fun, they tend to strain your lower back more than anything else, and did I mention it's a total snooze-fest to even get through one set of crunches? Thankfully, there are plenty of ab workouts that don't involve crunches, but will still challenge your core and keep your workout routine interesting. Fair warning: These workouts might be harder than some of the moves you're used to.
According to Astrid Swan, a Premier Protein ambassador and certified personal trainer to the stars, there are a ton of fun ab exercises (but you'll be the judge of that, right?) you can do that aren't crunches. You just have to get a little creative with your routine, which might entail bringing some additional props into the scenario. "Don’t be afraid to use weights when working on your abs," Swan tells Elite Daily over email. "My favorite non-crunch ab exercise is ball slams."
In case you have no idea what the heck a ball slam is, don't worry — Swan breaks it down for you, and it's pretty simple: "Using a medicine ball, raise it over your head, lift up onto your tippy-toes, take a big inhale, and as you exhale, throw the ball down to the floor, engaging or 'crunching' your abdominals," she says. "Catch the ball after one bounce with bent knees like a squat, and repeat."
Astrid says using weights like this in your workout will not only challenge your abs, but also elevate your heart rate.
As with any exercise you do, Swan says, keeping your core engaged and your spine protected is key. With that in mind, if you're looking to replace your usual crunches, Astrid recommends experimenting with workouts like kettle-bell swings, reverse burpees, and basically any kind of plank. But one of Swan's personal favorite ab workouts is called the standing windmill, which not only works the front of your core, she says, but the side body, as well. Spoiler alert: Your body will be in a windmill-like stance, so prepare yourself, girl. This one's kind of intense.
Here's how to do it: To begin, grab a kettle-bell. Place your hand through the handle of the weight, and let it rest on the back of your forearm as you stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Turn one of your feet (the one opposite of the arm that's holding the weight) out about 45 degrees, then straighten the arm that's holding the weight up toward the ceiling. Make sure to keep your arm with the weight straight up and pointed toward ceiling throughout the exercise, then hinge over, guiding your butt back as you reach the opposite hand toward the ground. According to Swan, you should feel your core engage and rotate as you drop the hand without the weight and hinge.
Remember, though, that technically, you can work your core at almost any point in the day while you're going about your usual routine, says Swan.
"Good posture, weightlifting, cardio, and eating nutritiously are all helping you develop a stronger core," the trainer tells Elite Daily. In other words, while the real work is mostly accomplished when you're actually exercising, keeping your core strong and healthy is, in reality, something you can do whenever and wherever.
So sit up tall, eat your veggies, take the stairs instead of the elevator, and praise the lord for ab workouts that aren't crunches.