Crunches may be a classic, but let’s face it, they’re often as exciting as watching paint dry. And their effectiveness for truly toned abs? Debatable. In fact, Doctors Brad Schoenfeld and Morey Kolber stated in a column in the Strength and Conditioning Journal from 2016 that abdominal crunches may increase the risk of lower back pain in addition to their questionable effectiveness.

Ditch the boredom and boost your core with these 6 innovative moves. This isn’t a whole workout – pick a few favourites and design your own routine. And remember, the suggested weights are just that – adjust them based on your strength.

man doing plank workout

1. Side Plank

Brace for a core blast! Hold this pose for 30-60 seconds, then conquer 3-5 sets per side. The classic plank’s tough cousin, the side plank offers double the wobble with just two contact points. Plant your hand directly under your shoulder, reach your top hand skyward, and lift your hips – forming a straight line from head to heel. Savour the burn, it’s your core getting sculpted.

man performing twisting leg raise

2. Twisting Leg Raise

Lie flat on your back with arms spread out like starfish wings. Hug your legs together, then lift them towards the ceiling, keeping a slight bend in your knees.

Now, the fun twist (literally): Lower your legs slowly to the right side, as low as you comfortably can, counting for two seconds.

Rise back up to the centre, exhaling and drawing your belly button towards your spine. Keep your upper body glued to the mat as you repeat the lowering-lifting duo on the left side. Aim for 15-20 reps per side.

man doing thread the needles exercise

3. Thread the Needles

Master the high-side plank, then channel your inner ninja with this mobility marvel. Reach your top arm towards the sky, feeling the core fire. Now, keep those hips stable and, with a controlled exhale, thread that arm under your body like a stealthy serpent, reaching for the wall behind you. Squeeze your core as you twist and extend back to the starting position. Repeat this 15-20 times per side.

woman doing reach for it exercise

4. Reach for It

Elevate your side plank with a touch of ballet beauty. Start in a high plank, extending your top arm towards the sky and stacking your feet. Feel the fire igniting in your core! Now, lengthen your top leg towards the ceiling, creating a gentle side bend. Hold here, savouring the balance challenge. Finally, exhale deeply and draw your knee towards your elbow, squeezing your obliques. Extend back out to the starting position, and repeat 15-20 times per side.

woman doing drop it low exercise

5. Drop It Low

Take your side plank to a whole new level of spice with this twisty challenge. First, transition from high plank to elbow plank, feeling the strength in your core. Now, reach your top hand behind your head, keeping your elbow open (no peeking at the ceiling!). Inhale here, then exhale explosively as you twist and “drop” your top elbow towards your bottom hand. Feel the burn in your obliques! Control the twist back to the starting position, and repeat 15-20 times per side.

6. Pike Variations

Ready to take your core strength to new heights? Dive into the pike on a stability ball! Start by finding a high plank position, hands directly under shoulders, with a medium-sized ball nestled mid-shin. Feel the subtle wobble – that’s your core getting prepped for the fun. Now, inhale and lift your hips towards the sky, squeezing your abs like you’re pulling your waistband in. Hold for a glorious two to three seconds at the peak of the pike, feeling your core ignite. Exhale and slowly return to the starting position. Repeat this 15-20 times.

Tip: Master your balance by lifting one leg off the ball at the top of the pike. Extend it straight, hold it for a beat, and alternate legs like a graceful crane. Remember, slow and controlled movements are key.

Final Thoughts

Ditch the sit-up myth and unlock your true core potential! Crunches might have reigned supreme in yesteryear’s fitness scene, but their reign is over. The quest for sculpted abs demands a holistic approach, a symphony of clean eating, controlled body fat, and dedicated training that blends cardio and strategic strength moves.

Think beyond the burn of countless crunches that often only leave you with a sore neck. Instead, embrace the world of dynamic stabilising exercises. These moves engage numerous muscle groups, demanding balance and precise control. It’s not just about sculpting a six-pack; it’s about building a strong, stable core that translates to every aspect of your life, from athletic prowess to everyday movements.