6 Crunch-Free Core Exercises to Fire Up Your Abs

Tone these important muscles—they're the ones that help you stand up straight.

Side View Of Young Woman Leaning Against Wall
Photo: Khosrow Rajab Kordi/Getty Images

For deep strength and stability through your entire trunk, do this 15-minute core workout three or four times a week.

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The Routine

Exercising your core muscles—which includes everything from your back to your hips to your obliques to your deep transverse abdominis—is seriously important. Strong abdominal and back muscles are essential for doing everyday tasks, like lifting a 20-pound toddler and putting away groceries, not to mention preventing an achy (or injured) back and maintaining good posture all day.

Break out of (boring) crunch mode and power up your trunk with this Pilates-inspired core exercise routine, created by Kit Rich, NASM-certified personal trainer and Pilates instructor in Los Angeles. Complete this workout set three to four times a week for stronger, sturdier midsection.

02 of 07

Knee Fold Tuck

Illustration of a figure doing a knee fold tuck
Jason Lee

(A) Sit tall, hands on floor, knees bent, squeezing a playground ball (or rolled up towel) between them.

(B) Lift knees toward chest so shins are nearly parallel to the floor; extend arms straight out. Pull knees toward shoulders, keeping upper body still. Bring knees back to starting position. Repeat 15 to 20 times.

03 of 07

Climbing Rope

Illustration of a figure demonstrating the climbing rope
Jason Lee

(A) Sit with legs extended, feet turned out in a V-position, toes pointed. Engage core muscles (helps to exhale) and roll spine slightly down into a C-curve.

(B) Lift arms up and begin moving them as if you were climbing a rope. Twist slightly with each reach. Do 20 reaches with each arm.

04 of 07

Side Balance Crunch

Illustrated figure demonstrating a side balance crunch
Jason Lee

(A) Begin with left knee and left hand on the floor, right arm straight up. Extend right leg so your body forms a straight line.

(B) Pull right knee toward torso and right elbow toward knee. Straighten arm and leg. Repeat 10 times, then switch sides.

05 of 07

Circle Plank

Illustrated figure demonstrating a circle plank
Jason Lee

Start in a plank position with abs engaged (imagine drawing belly button into spine).

(A) Pull right knee in toward chest and circle it clockwise.

(B) Repeat in a counterclockwise direction. Keep the rest of your body stationary. Repeat five times, then switch legs.

06 of 07

Sliding Pike

Illustrated figure demonstrating a sliding pike
Jason Lee

(A) Begin in a plank on an uncarpeted floor, hands under shoulders and a towel under feet.

(B) With legs straight, raise hips and draw legs toward hands into a pike position—your feet should slide easily. Hold for one count, then return to start. Repeat 10 times.

07 of 07

Oblique Reach

Illustrated figure demonstrating an oblique reach
Jason Lee

Sit with knees bent and feet on floor.

(A) Keeping knees aligned, straighten right leg. Engage core and roll spine into a slight C-curve. Place left hand behind head and extend right arm.

(B) Twist body to the left, roll back a bit more (and hold for one count), then come up. Do five reps, then switch sides.

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