10 Flat Stomach Alternatives to Crunches

The 10 exercises that will give you flat abs without doing a single boring crunch

Ben Greenfield
Episode #057

Crunch Alternative #8 - Front Planks

There are many variations of front plank exercises, but they all involve a starting position with your elbows bent and your body in an extended, belly-down position supported by your forearms and your feet. You can simply hold this position, or you can tap your feet or alternate between reaching with each arm.

Crunch Alternative #7 - Side Planks

Side planks are similar to the front planks, but instead, simply support yourself on one arm, so that your bellybutton is turned to the side. From this position, you can also do more advanced exercises like raising a dumbbell with your non-support arm or rotating with your non-support arm.

Crunch Alternative #6 - Stability Ball Plank

Are you seeing a pattern here? The reason the planking motion is such a great alternative to the crunch is that is uses all the abdominal muscles, but doesn’t require bending and extending. If your forearms don’t like the front plank position, the stability ball plank is a great option. Simply put your legs up on a stability ball, and support the rest of your body in a pushup position with your hands. Make the exercise more difficult by placing your toes instead of your legs on the ball.

Crunch Alternative #5 - Stability Ball Knee To Chest

Once you’ve mastered the stability ball plank position, simply move from that position by pulling your knees to your chest, then extending back into a plank position.

Crunch Alternative #4 - Stability Ball Pike

When the stability ball knee to chest exercise gets easy, move to pikes, in which you start in a stability ball plank position and then pull your butt up towards the sky while keeping your legs completely straight.

Crunch Alternative #3 - Bridge

As you work your abdominals, you need to also maintain your low back strength, so that you don’t create muscular imbalances. Perform a low back strengthening bridge by lying on your back on the ground, then thrusting your hips towards the sky. For more advanced variations, try a single leg bridge or a stability ball bridge.

Crunch Alternative #2 - Med Ball Side Throws

Let’s finish with two of my favorite and most “violent” abdominal exercises. Grab a medicine ball, which is one of those small but deceptively heavy balls you can find at the gym, and then head to an area where you have a solid wall and no people around. Twist your body to one side and then twist back and actually throw the ball against the wall, catch and repeat. Once you’ve completed a series of throws for one side, face the other direction and complete another set of throws for the opposite side.

Crunch Alternative #1 - Med Ball Slams

Hold the medicine ball overhead, then slam it into the ground as hard as you can, while keeping your abs tight and breathing out. This exercise is also a fantastic way to let off steam after a hard day at work.

If you have more questions about the crunch, or these alternatives, share them on the Get-Fit Guy Facebook page!

Flat Stomach image courtesy of Shutterstock


About the Author

Ben Greenfield

Ben Greenfield received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from University of Idaho in sports science and exercise physiology; personal training and strength and conditioning certifications from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA); a sports nutrition certification from the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), an advanced bicycle fitting certification from Serotta. He has over 11 years’ experience in coaching professional, collegiate, and recreational athletes from all sports, and as helped hundreds of clients achieve weight loss and fitness success.

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