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5 Alternative Ab Exercises That Aren't Sit-Ups

Everything has its place, just some exercises fit better than others. When it comes to ab and core exercises, how many variations of crunches and sit-ups can you do till it's enough and you want something different.


When it comes to doing some “flexion” type core exercises, we try crunches, sit-ups, leg raises, v-ups, bicycles. I mean the list is endless, but may not necessarily get you the results you want. Besides, there are other ways to get the same effect than old-school gym class sit-ups.


Reverse Crunch


Lay on your back and grab onto a secure pole or a heavy dumbbell that's behind you. Brace your core before you do anything and then use your abs to peel your hips and lower back off the ground.

One of the keys to getting the most out of this exercise is to push your hips and knees towards the ceiling rather than curling your body up and bringing your knees to your chest.

Additionally, one of the pitfalls of this exercise is using momentum to get the legs and hips up rather than controlling it with your abs.

As you come back down, avoid letting your lower back arch up.



McGill Curl-Ups


These have been popularized by Dr. Stuart McGill as one of his “Big 3” exercises to prevent low back pain or to rehab from it.


The key to these is to create tension in your abs before you even move, much like the reverse crunches before. From there “peel” yourself up off the ground very slightly and breathe out. Hold the top for a few seconds, then lower back down, maintaining tension.


This should feel harder than any other crunch you’ve ever done as the tension is constant. If you find that you're shaking during these, well, that's just a bonus I guess.


These are a great alternative to regular crunches, in fact, because the low back doesn’t round, it’s actually preferable.



TRX Suspended Crunches


These TRX Crunches combine two movements in one. The first is that we start off in a plank or push-up position with the feet in the straps. The second is that using the abs, we draw the knees in towards the chest.


As you do this, bring the hips up a bit so your back stays in a neutral position and doesn't round out. Then you'll return to that starting position. Make sure you’re keeping tension through your whole body during the exercise to avoid any swinging or rocking.


As a bonus, you’ll get a solid workout for your arms and shoulders.




GHR Sit-ups

This is an exercise that not only tests your abs, but it tests your fear of falling backward. To do these GHY sit-ups you first need a GHR. If you don't have one, you can lock your feet in place in other ways like under a rack.

As with most of the exercises here, we start by bracing our core, then lower down till your flat and parallel to the ground. Using your abs, come back up to the starting position, trying to keep a neutral spine as you do so.


Avoid any excessive ranges of motion, especially at the bottom of this one.




Hanging Leg Raises


The hanging leg raise provides a few benefits outside of working on your core. You’ll work on grip strength as well as shoulder stability.


In order to get the most out of these, make sure you start with the ribs and hips in line, kinda like a hollow hold, then bring the knees up to 90 degrees.


It’s also essential to avoid swinging during the movement, so maintain control as you do it.



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