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Unexpected movements that work better than crunches

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Created for Greatist by the experts at Healthline. Continue reading

When it comes to bodyweight abs exercises, crunches are not the be-all and end-all.

In fact, some research has shown that the classic crunch may not even be as effective as it doesn’t activate all of your core muscles.Stenger E et al. (2014). Section! Section! Section! https://www.acefitness.org/education-and-resources/professional/prosource/april-201


Whether you’re looking to build strength for that elusive pull-up or you’re just after the chance to perform a six pack (hey, no judgment!), There are more effective exercises than endless crunches.

From plank variations to weighted exercises, these moves from Tone House head coach Evan Betts will fundamentally change the way you think about working on your midsection.

It won’t even feel like you’re targeting your abs, but you’ll still be using your core for absolute abs toning results (sorry, not sorry).

Depending on your fitness level, Betts suggests choosing two or three of the following movements and incorporating them into an exercise routine that takes the following form:

  1. Do each move for 60 seconds (or the specified number of repetitions). Rest for 20 seconds.
  2. Take the next step.
  3. Let rest for up to 60 seconds at the end of all three puffs.
  4. Repeat the circuit.
  5. Complete 3 or 4 rounds in total.

With these movements all you need is your body and willpower.

1. High knees

Imagine running but nowhere? When your knees are really high If this sounds self-destructive, think again.

  1. Stand on your body with your feet hip-width apart and your back straight.
  2. Keep your arms steady or swing to aid the swing.
  3. Running in place, pulling each knee toward your chest as high as possible, and using your lower abs to pull your knees up. (Think sprinting, not jogging.)
  4. Walk as fast as you can for 60 seconds.

If you have a bit of knee pain but want to try this out, these knee pain yoga poses can help loosen up your joints.

2. Tuck Jump

Bounce, bunny, bounce! This workout really keeps you busy.

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, your core engaged, and, yes, you guessed it, a straight back.
  2. Send your hips back, bend your knees slightly, and bend your elbows 90 degrees, palms down.
  3. Jump up in an explosive (POW!) Motion and pull your knees toward your chest so that they tap your palms facing down.
  4. Land lightly on your toes with a slight knee flexion and immediately jump back up.
  5. Jump for 60 seconds.

Jumping can be a great addition to any training plan – here is our guide to mastering the vertical jump.

3. Plank Walk

What could it do?

  1. Start in a high plank position.
  2. Lower yourself onto your right forearm, then onto your left forearm. You are now in a forearm plank.
  3. Return to the starting position by pushing up from your left forearm to your left hand and then from your right forearm to your right hand.
  4. Continue for 60 seconds.
  5. After 30 seconds, switch to leading with your other arm.

Here are 47 ways to mix up your planks for a insane core.

4. Plank lifter

Like a springbok without jumping and with more planking.

  1. Start in a high plank position.
  2. With your core tensed, jump both feet further apart than hip width. Now she’ll jump back together quickly. Try to land gently on your toes every time (because who likes a broken toe?).
  3. Focus on keeping your hips still and your arms straight.
  4. Continue for 60 seconds.

More in jacks of the “jumping” variety? Here’s how to nail them down.

5. Plank arms go out

Hey, I’m here on the plank!

  1. Start in a high plank position.
  2. Slowly step forward with your hands so your wrists are no longer under your shoulders and your body is straight.
  3. Go forward with your hands as far as you can.
  4. Take a short break at the extreme point before bringing your hands back to the starting position.
  5. Repeat the process for up to 60 seconds.

If you want to exercise more with friends, here’s how to involve someone else in your exercise.

6. High plank bird dog

Because there’s a dog-tweet-dog world out there.

  1. Start in a high plank position.
  2. Tighten your core and lift your right hand and left foot off the ground like a traditional bird dog.
  3. Return to the starting position and repeat this movement on the other side of your body.
  4. Do 10 repetitions on each side.

We found a 7 minute workout that can change your abdominal game forever.

7. Scorpio

This one stings, but it will do the job.

  1. Start on all fours.
  2. Tighten your core, come to your tiptoes, and shift your weight to the right side of your body.
  3. Take your left hand and foot off the floor and allow your right hand and foot to slide so you get into an open position.
  4. Lift your right hand and left foot off the floor. With your left leg straight, grind your torso to tap your left toe with your right hand.
  5. Return to all fours.
  6. Repeat on the other side without your hips touching the floor at any point.
  7. Continue for 10 repetitions on each side.

Pushups more your bag? Try these 82 advanced variations to get your arms (and blood) pumping.

8. Spider-Man push-ups

(Disclaimer: You can no longer swing from tall buildings after trying.)

  1. Start in a high plank position.
  2. Reach into your core and bring your right knee forward toward your right elbow. Rotate your hips and inner thighs parallel to the floor.
  3. When your right knee comes forward, bend your arms and lower yourself into a push-up.
  4. Return to the starting position and repeat the exercise on the other side.
  5. Do 10 repetitions on each side.

Make it easier: Skip the push-ups. Instead, hold a high plank consistently and focus on pushing your slants to capture your core.

9. Body saw

You need a small towel or you can You can find a number of sliders online for this move.

  1. Start in a forearm board with your toes on the towel / slider.
  2. With the core locked into place, slide your body forward and bring your shoulders forward past your elbows as far as possible.
  3. Then slide back so your shoulders can move behind your elbows. Keep moving back and forth for 60 seconds.

Make it easier: Instead, make a mountaineer or a wide leg mountaineer.

10. Dragon flag

This train is absolutely fire. And feels like it too.

  1. Find an anchor to hold onto with your arms outstretched. You could use a chair, bench, or a closed door. (We used a ground anchor in the GIF above.)
  2. Lie up with your knees bent.
  3. Shift your weight onto your shoulders, reach into your core, and lift your feet above your head like a shoulder stand.
  4. Try to keep your legs as straight as possible.
  5. Lower your legs without touching the floor and repeat.
  6. Do 3 to 5 slow, controlled repetitions.

Important note: Don’t do this exercise if you already have shoulder problems. In the shoulder stand, look straight ahead, never side to side, to protect your neck from injury.

(If your neck hurts a little, here are the best pillows money can buy.)

Because if you want to get hot and heavy.

11. One-armed farmer’s walk

This is not your average park (or farm) walk.

  1. Take a heavy weight like a dumbbell, kettlebell, or sandbag (as pictured).
  2. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, core locked, and back straight.
  3. Hold the weight in your right hand and walk forward about 10 feet (or about 30 seconds).
  4. When you turn back, switch the weight to the other hand.

Make it harder: Increase the challenge by walking backwards (carefully!) Or stopping halfway and holding for a few seconds before continuing. My goodness!

When lifting weights, it is very important to build up slowly. Here is the weight selection know-how.

12. Medicine ball halo

🎤 “You hit me like a Meeeeeeedicine ball …”🎤

Buy one Medicine ball (as shown), Dumbbell or Kettlebell online.

  1. Hold the weight at chest level with both hands.
  2. Make a large circle around your torso. Keep your knees soft and your core steady and steady throughout.
  3. Repeat this process in one direction for 30 seconds, then reverse for another 30 seconds.

We’ve found 25 more ways a medicine ball can shake your world.

13. Resistance band rotation

Looking for one Resistance band or cable machine for this exercise. Use only lightfastness to protect your spine.

  1. Stand with your left side facing the band anchor.
  2. With your hands shoulder-width apart, elbows at a 90-degree angle, and palms down, use your core to free yourself from the tape anchor.
  3. Slowly return to the starting position – it’s important not to snap back into place.
  4. Do 15 to 20 repetitions, then repeat on the other side.

Resistance bands are brilliant. We’ve rounded up 33 great resistance band exercises to tone every part of your body.

14. Reneged series

Become a renegade master …

  1. Start in a high plank position with a dumbbell near your right hand.
  2. Keeping your body straight and core engaged as you raise the barbell with your right hand.
  3. Do a row, keeping your arm close to your side and your elbow in line with your rib cage as you lift the bar toward your ribs.
  4. Lower the dumbbell to its starting position. Repeat the process for 30 seconds, then switch sides for another 30 seconds.

Rowing is absolutely the boss if you get it right. This is to make sure that you never go up a stream without a paddle.

Wait, what’s another crisis?

There are movements here for every skill level and ways to face the more difficult ones. If these seem intimidating at first, there is always a way to make them accessible and try them out.

We looked a little deeper into the world of crunches and examined whether they provide the full picture for ab strength (spoiler alert: they don’t).

Filmed on location at Tone House in New York City. Special thanks to Tone House head coach Evan Betts who designed these moves, modeled them for us and performed this killer push-up – just for fun. #PushupGoals

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