Eight Exercises that can Replace Crunches

When we talk about showing off a flat belly, we think we need to perform many crunches to achieve definition. This isn't entirely true, since we can use a series of other movements to achieve our goal as well.
Eight Exercises that can Replace Crunches

Last update: 14 April, 2020

Many of us would love to have a flat stomach, strong abs, and the much-desired six-pack. We need a lot of work and perseverance to achieve this. However, if this is something you want, it can be easy to believe that classic crunches are the only way to get there, and this is simply not true. In today’s article, we’ll talk about some exercises that you can use to replace crunches.

How to get a flat stomach

When working on your abdominal area to get a flat stomach, it’s essential to include all of your core muscles.

To work on this area, it’s important to focus on the three fundamental factors. Failing to include any of them can prevent you from achieving your goals. Therefore, it’s vital to follow them closely and master the next points:

  • Maintain a balanced and adequate diet. It’s essential to reduce the number of calories you eat in a day in order to lower your body fat percentage. This will always go hand in hand with a complete program of physical activity.
  • Follow specific training for your core muscles. Isometric exercises, such as planks, will become a part of your main training routine.
  • Practice full-body workouts. This will allow you to avoid the traditional crunches we see every day. Some exercises you can do are squats or step-ups.

Eight exercises to replace classic crunches

Besides food, to get a flat stomach you must follow a physical conditioning plan that suits your goals. In any case, we’ll show you a series of exercises to replace traditional crunches, which can often be boring and ineffective.

You can do many of these exercises in your own home and without any equipment. Since the set-up is so easy, you can avoid the excuses people sometimes use to skip the gym. Don’t miss out!

1. Ab plank, the ultimate exercise to replace crunches

We couldn’t start with any other exercise. The plank is the method par excellence to work all your core muscles. This exercise works your muscles in an isometric way, with static force.

To do this, place the weight of your body on your toes, elbows, and forearms. Your arms should be responsible for keeping your core in the proper position, which why this position is very demanding. You can perform sets of three reps for one minute.

2. Squats

Despite the fact that squats usually target the lower body, the contractions that happen in the abdomen when you’re going up and down are really effective for working on this area.

There’s also the factor of caloric expenditure, since we burn around 300 calories for every 100 squats that we perform.

To perform a proper squat, it’s essential to maintain your back under complete control, focusing to keep it as straight as possible. You can start with sets of 15 reps; try to not drop below 50-60 reps per day. Once you’ve mastered this exercise, you can add on weight by holding any object.

3. Go up and down the stairs

An activity as simple as going up and down the stairs, every day, can be a great help to achieve your goal. To boost the effect, you can perform sets vigorously and with the least possible pause time.

If you do 15 to 20-minute sets, you can burn around 200 calories. Similar to squats, it’s essential to maintain an upright position, which allows you to control the position of your back at all times.

4. Rolling on a fit ball: a low-risk way to replace crunches

With this exercise, you can achieve a greater contraction and stretching mechanism; but you have the advantage of not bending or flexing the lumbar area too much. If you don’t do this carefully, there’s a high risk of  lower back injuries.

An older man rolling on top of a fitball with the help of his trainer to replace traditional crunches

5. Climbers

This is another fundamental movement when looking for exercises to replace traditional crunches. It has the great advantage that we can do them anywhere, without any extra equipment. Mountain climbers allow us to work the oblique muscles without the need for a traditional side crunch.

On top of that, unlike traditional oblique crunches, mountain climbers help us to increase our lumbar resistance and stability. Once again, it’s very important to maintain a good lumbar posture during the execution of this movement.

6. Diamond push-ups

To perform this exercise, place a board on a ball; the later will be the point of support for your hands to perform the arm flexion. While it may not seem like it, this exercise can activate 30 percent more core muscles than the traditional crunch. Remember to maintain the correct back posture during the whole movement.

7. Push-ups with a fit ball

To execute this exercise, lie in a prone position on top of a fit ball. Then, move forward until you rest your arms fully extended on the ground; the tops of your feet should be the only part of your body touching the fit ball.

A woman getting into position to do a diamond push up as a way to replace traditional crunches

This will be the position from which you’ll perform the push-ups. Doing this modality will help you gain strength in the core and arms region.

8. Knee raise

This exercise, commonly known as ‘knees to chest’, helps to work on the abdominal area by contracting it. You have to execute it as quickly as possible. We have to mention the importance of your back posture during execution once again.

As you can see, there are a series of exercises to replace traditional crunches that anyone of us can do. All of these movements, along with a balanced diet, will allow you to come closer to achieving the goal that many of us desire: showing off a flat stomach.

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  • Akuthota, V., Ferreiro, A., Moore, T. y Fredericson, M. (2008). Core Stability Exercise Principles. Current Sports Medicine Reports, 7(1), 39-44.
  • Kibler, W.B., Press, J., y Sciascia, A.(2006). The role of core stability in athletic function. Sports Medicine, 36(3), 189–98.