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Tired of Crunches? Try These Ab Exercises Instead

Crunches may be a crowd-pleaser for working the upper abs, but it doesn't cut it for the entire core. Here are exercises beyond crunches that engage your entire midsection.

Joe Wilson
Tired of Crunches? Try These Ab Exercises Instead
Table Of Contents

Are you fed up with doing crunches to work your core? Think of it this way: if you’re like most people and want variety in your exercises, why should your abdominal routine be any different?

After all, having a strong core is key for overall health and fitness. That's why we've compiled the best ab exercises beyond crunches that engage all muscle groups in your midsection and make for an engaging workout.

So grab a mat and some water, and get ready to learn about every aspect of abdominal training – from plank variations to nonstandard twists.

Tired of Crunches? What Can You Do Instead

There are plenty of ab exercises out there beyond the old crunch. Some lesser-known ab exercises can be much more effective than those repetitive crunches and don't just work the upper ab muscles.

Hundreds, toe taps and the criss cross exercise can work your entire core – from your abs to your lower back. Plus, you don't need to do ab exercises every day to see results; even as little as three times a week for just ten minutes will give your ab muscles a proper workout.

So get out of that rut and mix up your ab routine with some new exercises – you won't regret it.

Best Ab Exercises Apart from Crunches

After crunches, the next best ab exercises are hundreds, toe taps, and criss-crosses. Different and extra fit for everyone, including beginners. These have excellent benefits and add exciting and challenging moves into the routine.


Hundreds are a great ab exercise that doesn't require crunches. It's really popular to compete in pilates classes, more so for its fitting name than anything else.

When completed correctly, hundreds involve holding your legs away from the mat and your head up while counting out 100 beats of your arms. Good form is essential to make it through the entire set since it tends to get more difficult closer to the end.

The hundred exercise is a great ab workout, especially for those looking for ab exercises that don't involve endless crunches. This dynamic warm-up targets the abdominals and your lungs, requiring you to be aware of your breath and move in rhythm with it.

Not only that, but it also helps to develop trunk stabilization and scapular strength, giving you an optimal ab workout. It may feel challenging initially, but this ab exercise can easily be modified to meet your fitness level or back/neck needs.

How to Do It?

  • Start lying on your mat with your back against the ground and lift your legs into a tabletop position.
  • Inhale to engage in the exercise, and on exhale, nod and curl your head, neck, and shoulders off the ground.
  • Extend your arms by your sides off the ground with your palms facing downwards.
  • Straight your legs to a 45-degree angle.
  • Inhale for 5 counts while pumping your arms upwards and downwards. Then exhale for 5 counts while pumping your arms upwards and downwards.
  • Repeat 10 sets to complete a hundred breaths.

For a beginner, do it with your head down and knees bent with your feet on the ground.

Toe Taps

The pilates toe tap is a great move that you can do on the mat - and it's surprisingly effective in engaging your core muscles and getting rid of belly fat fast. Although it may not seem like much, if you perform the exercise correctly, you will feel the burn with each repetition.

This ab exercise is amazing for increasing your heart rate and developing strength in your lower body muscles. It improves your speed, balance, and foot-handling skills and torches calories like there's no tomorrow.

It targets the core muscles involving your obliques and hips, rectus abdominis, and transverse abdominis.

For people who want ab exercises besides crunches, this one's a great way to go because you get to enjoy the trifecta of fitness benefits listed above - plus, you can do it almost anywhere at any level.

How to Do It?

  • Begin with lying on your mat with your back against the ground.
  • Position your legs in 90 degree position and inhale to start.
  • On the exhale, draw the abdominals inside and upwards.
  • Keep your hips still.
  • Then, tap one toe on the ground and return to the original position.
  • Repeat the same movement on the other leg.
  • To make this exercise challenging, do two legs at a time.
  • For beginners, begin with both feet on the ground and pull one leg to 90 degrees and down without moving your hips or your back moving off the ground.

Criss Cross

Criss-cross is a great ab exercise focusing on tricky oblique muscles. If you're looking for ab exercises beyond the same old crunches, criss-cross is one worth keeping in your exercise routine--it's a great way to help define your waistline and enhance mobility. And, with all ab workouts, the key is consistency.

Criss-cross is an ab exercise that stands out from conventional ab exercises such as crunches. Not only does it strengthen your ab muscles, but it also offers numerous other benefits.

It helps to increase body awareness and improve posture while strengthening weak hip flexors and challenging your core stability; the obliques become stronger, too, aiding in a defined waistline.

With its twisting motion, criss-cross is excellent for ab exercises beyond crunches. Working on your core system and breathing mechanics also adds to its benefits – helping you ace your Pilates practice easily.

How to Do It?

  • Lie on your back with a neutral spine and hips.
  • Straighten your legs at a 45-degree angle.
  • Keep your arms by the sides of the torso, hovering off the carriage.
  • Cross one leg on top of the other while lowering them down.
  • Then return to the 45-degree angle.


1. What are other exercises that work abs?

Ab rollouts with a wheel or ab roller are significant for core strength and stability; plus, you can adjust the intensity of the exercise by modifying the amount of weight used and the angle at which the ab roller is rolled out. Additionally, burpees target multiple sections of your core and help engage more muscle fibers for greater ab toning results.

2. Which are some of the core exercises apart from crunches?

There are plenty of ab exercises that go beyond crunches. This core workout can involve the whole upper and midsection body, helping to strengthen and tighten your core muscles.

Try planks, side planks, reverse crunches and mountain climbers, ab cycles, and ab bikes. These ab exercises target areas from different angles and provide great cardio benefits. Plus, if you like an extra challenge or want to mix it up even more, you can jump into a handstand or Pilates roll-ups for even more core strength training.

3. What are the core exercises besides planks?

Try something like mountain climbers. This helps build ab and core strength, and they're fairly easy to perform. Windshield wipers are also an incredible ab exercise that requires no planks and gives excellent results. Another one is the V-up sit-up; it's super effective but still a bit challenging.

4. Which are the core exercises without flexion?

Doing ab exercises without flexion typically involves plank variations or anti-rotation exercises, and these are great alternatives to crunches if you’re looking for something new in your ab routine. Not only do these ab exercises without flexion strengthen and tone the same muscles you would focus on during ab crunches, but they also help train your core muscles to resist spinal rotation.


Everyone tired from the old crunches now has a new option and variation to try, like hundreds, toe taps, and crisscrossing. They have different approaches to exercising and powerful benefits, like their different names.

Hundreds have benefits like stabilization and strength with excellent fitness levels; toe taps provide excellent speed, coordination and burn calories. The last one, criss-cross, gives strength, improves posture, strengthens hip flexors, core stability, and defined waistline. Enjoy these benefits and level up!

Reading List

Article Sources

  • Oliva-Lozano, José M., and José M. Muyor. ‘Core Muscle Activity during Physical Fitness Exercises: A Systematic Review’. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, vol. 17, no. 12, June 2020, p. 4306. PubMed Central,

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Joe Wilson

Mr. Wilson is a motivated fitness instructor accomplished in helping clients of all fitness levels get into shape and achieve their health and fitness goals. Strongly believes health is a conscious lifestyle choice necessary for longevity and happiness.

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