5 Surprising Core Burning Exercises

Posted on 16 June 2015

When asked what body part they’d like to improve most, many people will immediately respond with “my tummy.”  When sit ups and crunches get boring, here are some additional exercises that can target your problem areas while mixing up your routine!

Standing abs?  How can that be?  Try a Standing Oblique Crunch!  Stand with a handweight in your right hand, let it dangle towards the floor.  Using the opposite oblique, raise your body to upright, engaging the core as the ribs come towards the hips on the left side.  Keep shoulders down and even, and don’t use momentum to swing yourself around- limit the motion to the left obliques!  Make sure between sets that your hips and shoulders are square to spare yourself pain.  Repeat 15 crunches on each side.

Planks work over 20 muscles, from your shoulders to your glutes, and best of all, your core!  These are particularly great for those with back and neck pain, or those looking to up the ante from basic crunches.  A beginner knee plank begins face down on your mat.  Keep your elbows under your shoulders, forearms facing forward, and raise your back upward, keeping your knees and toes on the mat.  To really engage the core, imagine your bellybutton trying to meet up with your spine, and keep your shoulders to hips long and flat.  Start by holding this for 30 seconds, and add 10 seconds each time you do it.  Soon, you’ll be the Plank Master!

If body weight exercises are more your thing, get out of the crunch rut now!  Consider targeting those pesky lower abs with Bicycle Kicks.  Start on your back with your legs straight out, and your hands folded on your chest.  Your goal is to make your opposite elbow and knee touch over your belly.  Lift up and twist, bringing your knee in and reaching the opposite elbow across.  Repeat on each side.

Have a stability ball handy?  Try a stability ball crunch and twist.  You’ll want to lie on your back with your stability ball at the base of your back.  With feet about hip-width apart, crunch up, and twist your body to one side, straighten, and return back to the ball.  Keep your hands crossed against your chest to keep the work concentrated in your abs.

Yoga friends- you’re not excluded!  You may think all yoga challenges the core, and you’d be right.  But think of how you can be more mindful of your core.  For example, consider chair pose.  From standing straight, feet together and under you, exhale and bend your legs, moving the thighs towards parallel, as if you are starting to sit down in a chair.  Your torso will form a right angle at your hip connection, while your shoulder blades stay low and firm.  Yes, the burn will be in your legs, but hold that core to achieve a really, really stable chair pose. 

No matter what you’re routine, there’s room for ab exercises that AREN’T boring crunches!

Have fun, and stay active!!

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