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Skip the crunches: Effective ab training to vary your routine

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By Coach Matt

Summer is coming, and I’m getting lots of questions about getting a flatter stomach and tighter abs.

Add a little variety to the traditional abs/core routine with these movements. They’ll not only strengthen your midline,  also add a dash of variety and target some areas that traditional crunches may not be hitting. Throw these moves in before or after your workout, or at home when you’re watching TV.

Lower back first/ deliberate sit-up
The same sit-up you know and love, but with a little more focus. Don’t simply collapse your back to the floor, but purposefully touch the lower back to the ground first, then the middle back, and finally the shoulders. Come up in the reverse order of the descent with the same purpose and at a methodical pace. Try three counts down and three counts up.

Reverse crunch
Start on the floor with the knees up above the chest (ideally squeezing a ball). Drive the core toward the ceiling without allowing your knees to fall back too far over your chest. Drive up, come back down with control and repeat.

Reverse crunch with twist
Repeat the above movement, but add an external hip rotation/twist at the top of the drive to engage the oblique muscles.

Windshield wipers
Start laying down and extend your arms like a cactus, palms up. Raise your legs together up to a 90-degree angle, then push them down slightly, hitting about a 120-degree. Keeping shoulders down, bring both legs together across the body to the ground on the left side. Rise back up in same arching pattern and touch the feet to the ground on the right side. If you feel this in your back, try it with your knees at 90 degrees.