9 Core Exercises To Replace Crunches

In an earlier post I talked about why crunches aren’t the answer to your flat tummy and maybe doing more harm than good. So now I want to give you some alternatives to crunches that are more effective fro your core and safer for your back. Some of these are pelvic floor safe and others are not.

If you have any form of pelvic floor dysfunction or Pelvic Organ Prolapse, stick with the Pelvic Floor safe exercises, please also find a women’s health physiotherapist to work with, if you haven’t already. They may be able to help and restore healthy pelvic floor function and/or reduce your prolapse symptoms.

Before performing any core work, be sure to understand what your deep core muscles are. Be sure you can connect and correctly engage your core with your breath for safe core exercise. If you can do kegals you are are on the right path. If you can’t or don’t know what I am talking about get in contact with a local women’s health physiotherapist or trainer who is qualified in core function and rehabilitation.

Knee Lifts (pelvic floor safe)

Level: Beginner

Equipment: Nil

Reps: 12 – 15 reps each leg

How To:

  1. Lay on back, knees bent, feet on ground.
  2. Activate your core, raise your right knee until your thigh is perpendicular to the ground, then lower to the start position.
  3. This is 1 rep.
  4. Repeat with left knee.

Side Knee Lowers (pelvic floor safe)

Level: Beginner

Equipment: Nil

Reps: 12 – 15 each leg

How To:

  1. Lay on back, knees bent and fist width apart, feet on ground.
  2. Activate your core, slowly lower your right down to the side as far as you can manage while keeping both hips on the ground.
  3. Return knee to the start position.
  4. This is 1 rep.
  5. Repeat with left knee.

Around the Worlds (pelvic floor safe)

Level: Intermediate

Equipment: Slam ball/medicine ball/5+ kg Dumbbell

Pelvic Floor Safe Variation: perform seated on an exercise ball

Reps: 15 reps each direction

How To:

  1. Holding slam ball/dumbbell between both hands in front of your body.
  2. Standing with feet hip width apart, feet parallel.
  3. Activate your core, exhale and lift the slam ball over head.
  4. Move slam ball/dumbbell around your head in slow clockwise circles.
  5. The wider the circles the greater the challenge for your core to maintain activation and work to maintain stability.
  6. 1 full circle is 1 rep.
  7. Repeat in counter-clockwise direction.

Single Leg Forward Reach

Level: Beginner/Intermediate

Equipment: Dumbbell (Intermediate)

Reps: 15 each leg

How To:

  1. Stand with all your weight in your left foot, core activated and chest lifted.
  2. Reach your torso forward as you lift your right leg behind you. Reach your arms forward for balance as your torso and leg come parallel to the floor.
  3. Hold this position for a moment, and reach through your right heel to engage the back of the right leg.
  4. Moving in one piece, lower your right leg toward the floor as you return to standing upright, resting the right foot lightly on the ground.
  5. This is 1 rep.
  6. Do 15 reps before switching legs.

Dead Bugs (pelvic floor safe)

Level: intermediate

Equipment: None

Reps: 12 – 15 each side

How To:

  1. Lie on your back with your arms extended toward the ceiling, directly over your shoulders, and knees bent 90 degrees over hips, calves parallel to floor.
  2. Keeping your shoulders down and feet flexed (point your toes to ceiling).
  3. Activate your core and extend your right arm and left leg away from you.
  4. Tap your heel to floor and return to centre.
  5. This is 1 rep.
  6. Immediately repeat on the opposite side.

Hover (AKA elbow plank)

Level: Intermediate

Equipment: None

Reps: 5 – 8 reps

How To:

  1. Lie face down with your forearms on the floor and your elbows directly beneath your shoulders. Keep your feet flexed with the bottoms of your toes on the floor.
  2. Keep your hands open with finger straight (helps with correct posture of upper body).
  3. Rise up on your toes so that only your forearms and toes touch the floor with a straight line from shoulders to feet.
  4. Activate your core, drawing your navel toward your spine and tighten your buttocks.
  5. Look at the floor to keep your head in neutral position and breathe normally.
  6. Hold for at least 10 seconds and lower yourself back to the floor.
  7. This is 1 rep.

Side Hover

Level: Intermediate/Advanced

Equipment: None

Reps: 5 – 8 each side

Variations: On Bent Knee (Intermediate) | On Feet (Advanced)

How To:

Bent Knee:

  1. Lay on your side, resting on forearm and elbow with forearm pointed in front of your body. With your lower leg bent at the knee supporting most of your body weight.
  2. Make sure your elbow is tucked underneath your shoulder and your hips are raised. Keep you top leg straight and your foot flexed (toes pointed to the front).
  3. Raise your waist until there is a straight line from shoulders to your lower foot.
  4. Hold for 10 secs, then lower to start position.
  5. This is 1 rep.

On Feet:

  1. Lay on your side, resting on forearm and elbow with forearm pointed in front of your body. Both legs straight, stack on top of each other.
  2. Make sure your elbow is tucked underneath your shoulder. Keep you legs straight and your feet flexed (toes pointed to the front).
  3. Raise your hips until there is a straight line from shoulders to your feet.
  4. Hold for 10 secs, then lower to start position.
  5. This is 1 rep.

 

Plank with Alternate Foot Lift

Level: Advanced

Equipment: None

Reps: 10 – 12 each leg.

How To:

  1. Lay on floor on stomach, resting on your forearms.
  2. Forearms should be on the ground, elbows directly under your shoulders, fingers out straight and legs extended straight behind you, feet hip-width apart, bottom of your toes on the ground.
  3. Lift your hips so you form a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles, and your core should be activated.
  4. Keeping your hips parallel to the floor, squeeze your glutes to raise your right foot a few inches into the air. Hold for two seconds, then lower your foot.
  5. This is 1 rep.

 

Ab Rollout

Level: Advanced

Equipment: Exercise ball

Reps: 10 – 12

How To:

  1. Kneel on the floor behind a exercise ball with your knees hip-width apart.
  2. Place your hands on the ball with your palms together.
  3. Activate your core and keep your spine in neutral alignment as you roll the ball away from you until your elbows are on top of the ball. Hold the stable plank position for 5 secs.
  4. Pull your abs toward your lower back to initiate the return to your starting position.
  5. This is 1 rep.