30+ Ab Exercises That Are Better Than Crunches

Get ready to transform your abs and build the strongest core you've ever had with these strengthening exercises that are way better than a crunch. Take these exercises, and make yourself a workout! Choose your five favorite moves, and complete three to four rounds for time (30 to 60 seconds) or do them for reps (10 to 15). And with so many exercises to choose from, you (and your abs will) will never get bored.

01
Scissor Kicks
POPSUGAR Photography | Tamara Pridgett

Scissor Kicks

  • Lying on your back, lift your legs two to three inches off of the ground. Place your hands on the floor beside you or underneath your lower back for extra support.
  • Cross your right ankle over your left ankle, then cross your left ankle over your right ankle.
  • This completes one rep.
02
Up-Down Plank
POPSUGAR Studios

Up-Down Plank

  • Come into plank position with your arms and legs straight.
  • Beginning with the right side first, lower your elbow to the floor where your hand was. Then lower your left elbow to the floor where your left hand was (now you are in elbow plank, with your forearms parallel).
  • Then come back into the starting plank position onto your right hand and then back onto your left. This completes one rep.
03
Double Leg Lifts
POPSUGAR Photography

Double Leg Lifts

  • Lay flat on the ground with your legs extended straight up toward the ceiling.
  • Place your hands underneath the back of your head. For added stability, place your arms out to your side, allowing the palms to grip the floor much like you would in a push-up position.
  • Pressing your lower back into the ground, slowly lower both legs down toward the floor, then slowly raise them back up. This completes one rep.
  • If this is too difficult, lower them as much as you can, or lower one leg at a time.
04
Side Plank March
POPSUGAR Photography

Side Plank March

  • Come into an elbow plank on the right side. Your feet should be staggered with the foot of the top leg in back.
  • Bring your bottom knee toward your chest, and hold for two seconds. Place your foot on the ground and raise your top knee toward your chest and hold once again for two seconds before returning to the starting position. Do not sway forward or backward or let the rib cage sag while marching in this position. This completes one rep.
05
Standing Ab Rollout
POPSUGAR Photography

Standing Ab Rollout

  • Place your palms on the ball, and stand with your legs wide, about three or so feet apart. Walk the ball out so your back is straight and your hips are in the same line as your ankles.
  • From here, lean your body forward, allowing the ball to roll down your forearms. Stop once your elbows reach the ball and you're balancing on your tiptoes.
  • Then use your core and legs to get your body back to the starting position. This completes one rep. Be sure to keep your abs engaged throughout this move.
06
Vertical Bench Knee/Leg Raise
POPSUGAR Photography | Tamara Pridgett

Vertical Bench Knee/Leg Raise

  • Position yourself on a vertical bench with your back flat against the back support and your hands firmly gripping the handles.
  • Pull both knees up into your chest, and with control lower them back down to the starting position.
  • From here, fully extend both legs and lift them up until you've reached parallel (or as far as you can go). Lower your legs back down to the starting position.
  • This completes one rep.
07
Towel Abs
POPSUGAR Studios

Towel Abs

  • Begin in plank position with two towels under the balls of your feet (or paper plates if you're on carpet).
  • Slowly bend both knees in toward the chest while keeping the arms straight, shoulders over the wrists, and maintaining a flat, tabletop back. If this is too difficult, draw one knee in at a time.
  • This counts as one rep.
  • For a variation, draw both knees to the right foot, straighten the legs back behind you, then draw both knees to the left foot.
  • This counts as one rep.
08
T-Cross Sit-Up
POPSUGAR Photography | Kathryna Hancock

T-Cross Sit-Up

  • Begin lying on the floor with your arms out wide to the sides, making a T with your body.
  • Sit up lifting your right leg, and twist to bring your left hand to your right toes. Slowly roll back down, and repeat on the other side.
  • This completes one rep.
09
Mountain Climbers
POPSUGAR Photography

Mountain Climbers

  • Start in a traditional plank — shoulders over hands and weight in your toes.
  • With your core engaged, bring your right knee forward under your chest, with the toes just off the ground. Return to your basic plank. Switch legs, bringing the left knee forward. That completes one rep.
10
Plank With Shoulder Tap
POPSUGAR Photography | Kyle Hartman

Plank With Shoulder Tap

  • Begin in a plank variation with your feet slightly wider than your hips for added stability.
  • Keeping your torso stable, bring your right hand to your left shoulder, then return your right hand back to the mat.
  • Bring your left hand to your right shoulder and return it to the mat. This counts as one rep.
11
Hanging Leg Raise
POPSUGAR Photography | Tamara Pridgett

Hanging Leg Raise

  • Start by hanging on a pull-up bar with palms facing out, or use the ab straps and hang with your arms inside of them. Do use a box or bench if you need help reaching the bar.
  • Pull your shoulder blades down your back to keep your shoulders away from your ears.
  • Engage your abs as you fully extend both legs, lifting them up simultaneously with control.
  • Lower the legs down slowly and return to the starting position. This completes one rep.
  • Avoid swinging during this move to ensure that you're really working your abs.
  • If this move is too hard, you can do double leg lifts on the ground.
12
Frog
MNT Studio | Elaine Hayes

Frog

  • Lie on your back with your head and shoulders curled up and your hands interlaced behind your head, legs in tabletop with the knees open as wide as your shoulders and the heels together.
  • Inhale to stretch your legs out in front of you, exhale to bring the knees back into the "frog" position. This counts as one rep.
13
Side Bridge
POPSUGAR Photography

Side Bridge

  • Lie on your left side with the knee bent at a 90-degree angle and your elbow underneath your shoulder.
  • Push your hips forward, lifting your thighs off the ground. Rest the right hand on top of the right hip, and hold for 30 to 60 seconds.
  • Be sure to keep your knees, hips, and upper body aligned. If you experience discomfort in your shoulder, place your right hand over your left shoulder with your fingers spread apart, and pull your right elbow down across your chest.
14
Reverse Crunch
POPSUGAR Photography

Reverse Crunch

  • Lying on your back, lift your legs in the air with your knees bent. Place your hands on the floor beside you.
  • Without momentum, use your lower abs to slowly curl the hips off the floor and into your chest. Slowly lower them back to the starting position.
  • This completes one rep.
15
Ball Pass
POPSUGAR Photography

Ball Pass

  • Lie on your back holding an exercise ball above your chest, extending your feet up toward the ceiling.
  • On an exhale, move your arms and legs away from each other, lowering both toward the ground. Inhale to bring them back toward each other, and transfer the ball from your hands to your legs.
  • Then lower your arms and legs toward the floor away from each other.
  • Bring them back together, transferring the ball back to your hands.
  • This completes one rep.
16
Forearm Plank Hip Dips
POPSUGAR Studios

Forearm Plank Hip Dips

  • From an elbow plank, slowly rotate the spine to lower your left hip to just above the floor (about one to two inches from the ground). Come back to elbow plank.
  • Now lower the right hip toward the floor. This counts as one rep.
17
High Knees
POPSUGAR Studios

High Knees

  • Hold your hands at waist level.
  • Hop the right knee up toward your hands, then quickly switch legs and hop the left knee up.
  • This counts as one rep.
18
V-Sits
POPSUGAR Photography | Kathryna Hancock

V-Sits

  • Lie on your back, and reach your arms rigidly to your side, off the floor. Lift your legs off the floor, and point them, so they are at about a 45-degree angle. Lift your head, so your shoulders are off the floor as well.
  • When you're ready to begin, lift your upper torso off the floor, and bend your knees. You can lean back to make this move harder or come up more to make it easier. Slowly lower your upper body back down to the floor, straightening out your legs as you do so. Stop when your back is on the floor, but not your head, shoulders, or legs.
  • This completes one rep.
19
Ball Pike to Plank
POPSUGAR Photography

Ball Pike to Plank

  • Start in a plank position with your hands directly under your shoulders and your shins on the ball.
  • Do not allow your lower back to arch. Keep your feet, pelvis, and shoulders in one long line.
  • On an exhale, pull your abs deeply to your spine and use your abs to fold your body in half, pulling the ball forward toward your hands as your pelvis moves up in the air.
  • Your toes will move onto top of ball and your back will become perpendicular to the floor like a handstand. Allow your head to fall between your arms, keeping your neck long and in line with your spine.
  • Lower yourself back into a plank position and do not allow your pelvis to sag below your shoulders.
  • This completes one rep.
20
Side Plank Crunch
POPSUGAR Photography

Side Plank Crunch

  • Begin in a side elbow plank with your left forearm on the floor and your right hand behind your head.
  • Keeping your torso stable and your waist lifted, bring your right knee up toward your shoulder to lightly tap your right elbow.
  • Lengthen your right leg back to the starting position to complete one rep.
21
Seated Russian Twist
POPSUGAR Photography

Seated Russian Twist

  • Sit on the ground with your knees bent and your heels about a foot from your butt.
  • Lean slightly back without rounding your spine at all. It is really important, and difficult, to keep your back straight, but don't let it curve.
  • Hold a weight or a medicine ball just below your chest. Keep the weight close you and progress by moving weight further away from your body.
  • Pull your navel to your spine and twist slowly to the left. The movement is not large and comes from the ribs rotating, not from your arms swinging. Inhale through center and rotate to the right. This completes one rep.
22
Elbow Plank
POPSUGAR Photography

Elbow Plank

  • Start face down on the floor resting on your forearms and knees.
  • Push off the floor, raising up off your knees onto your toes and resting mainly on your elbows.
  • Contract your abdominals to keep yourself up and prevent your booty from sticking up.
  • Keep your back flat — don't let it droop or you'll be defeating the purpose. Picture your body as a long straight board, or plank.
  • Hold as long as you can. Aim for 20-30 seconds in the beginning and work your way up to one minute, as you get stronger.
23
Birdog
POPSUGAR Photography

Birdog

  • Get on all fours, with your knees under your hips and your hands under your shoulders. Remember to keep abs engaged and keep your back flat.
  • Reach out with your right hand and extend your left leg out behind you.
  • Round your back and head to connect your right elbow with your left leg under your body. This completes one rep.
24
Dead Bug
POPSUGAR Photography

Dead Bug

  • Lie on your back with a neutral spine and your hips and knees at right angles with your palms pressed into your thighs just above your knees.
  • Pull your abs to your spine keeping your ribs and pelvis still as you lengthen your right arm and leg out until they are almost parallel to the floor. Keep your torso and spine completely stable as the arm and leg move.
  • Return to the starting position, and repeat on the left side to complete one rep.
25
TRX Mountain Climbers
POPSUGAR Photography | Tamara Pridgett

TRX Mountain Climbers

  • With the straps at mid-calf length, place your feet into each of the foot cradles.
  • Lift your knees off the ground, coming into a plank position with your hands directly underneath your shoulders. Your back should be flat and your core should be engaged (there should be no arch or dip of the torso visible).
  • Bring your left knee to your left elbow, then return to your starting position. Bring the right knee to your right elbow. This completes one rep. As you become familiar with the movement, begin to pick up the pace.
  • Be sure to avoid sawing (the handles move up and down) the TRX by putting even weight into the foot cradles.
26
TRX Pikes
POPSUGAR Photography | Tamara Pridgett

TRX Pikes

  • With the straps at mid-calf length, place your feet into each of the foot cradles.
  • Lift your knees off the ground, coming into a plank position with your hands directly underneath your shoulders. Your back should be flat and your core should be engaged (there should be no arch or dip of the torso visible).
  • Pretend there is a string attached to your tailbone as you lift your hips up toward the ceiling (as high as your mobility allows). Lower back down into your plank position. This completes one rep.
27
TRX Knee Tucks
POPSUGAR Photography | Tamara Pridgett

TRX Knee Tucks

  • With the straps at mid-calf length, place your feet into each of the foot cradles.
  • Lift your knees off the ground, coming into a plank position with your hands directly underneath your shoulders. Your back should be flat and your core should be engaged (there should be no arch or dip of the torso visible).
  • Bring both knees in toward your elbows at the same time. Extend your legs, returning to your starting position. This completes one rep.
28
High to Low Wood Chop
POPSUGAR Photography | Kathryna Hancock

High to Low Wood Chop

  • Holding an eight- to 10-pound dumbbell overhead, twist to the left, pivoting your right foot as needed.
  • Exhale, and slice the dumbbell across your body to the right as you raise your right knee, bringing the weight to the outside of your right hip.
  • Raise the weight back to starting position, and lightly tap your right toes to the floor. This completes one rep.
29
Side Plank Dips
POPSUGAR Photography

Side Plank Dips

  • Begin in a side elbow plank on your right side with your heels stacked.
  • Inhale and lower your pelvis to the floor, so your right hip hovers just off the floor. Exhale and press up through your right waist to lift your pelvis and return to side plank. Pull your right shoulder blade down your back to stabilize your shoulder.
  • This completes one rep.
30
Cable Crunch
POPSUGAR Photography | Tamara Pridgett

Cable Crunch

  • Attach a triceps rope handle to the pulley on the carriage of a cable station. Adjust the carriage so that it's near the top third of the machine. The exact position will vary based on your height.
  • Next, select the amount of resistance you want — 22.5 pounds is a great starting point. As you begin to become more comfortable with the movement, feel free to increase the weight.
  • Facing the pulley, come into a kneeling position approximately one and a half feet away from the machine.
  • Grab the triceps rope handles, and brace your core. You should feel a light stretch in your abs; if not, increase the weight. Make sure your weight is in your shins.
  • Simultaneously pull both handles with bent arms and perform a crunch. Your elbows should be parallel to your thighs.
  • With control, return to the starting position as you maintain tension on the pulley. That completes one repetition.
31
Double Crunch Pulse With Medicine Ball
POPSUGAR Photography | Kathryna Hancock

Double Crunch Pulse With Medicine Ball

  • Begin lying on your back with your legs in the air, toes toward the ceiling, holding the medicine ball over your chest with straight arms. Engage your abs to press your low back into the mat while lifting your head, neck, and upper back off the mat.
  • Exhale and round your low back so the bottom of the pelvis raises as you lift your upper body an inch higher off the mat. Aim the medicine ball toward your ankles as you perform this double crunch.
  • Inhale, and lower the pelvis and upper back an inch toward the floor. This completes on rep.
32
Bicycle Crunches
POPSUGAR Photography | Kathryna Hancock

Bicycle Crunches

  • Lie flat on the floor with your lower back pressed to the ground (pull your abs down to also target your deep abs). Interlace your fingers, and put your hands behind your head.
  • Bring your knees in toward your chest, and lift your shoulder blades off the ground.
  • Straighten your right leg out to about a 45-degree angle to the ground while turning your upper body to the left, bringing your right elbow toward the left knee. Make sure your rib cage is moving and not just your elbows.
  • Now switch sides, and do the same motion on the other side to complete one rep (and to create the "pedaling" motion).
33
Side Plank
POPSUGAR Photography

Side Plank

  • Begin by lying on your left side. Bring your left elbow directly under your left shoulder. Engage your core, press your left elbow into the floor, and rise into side elbow plank.
  • Place your top foot in front of your bottom foot, or stagger your feet if your balance feels off.
  • If you feel discomfort in your bottom shoulder, place your right hand on your left shoulder and pull the left elbow down across the chest.
  • To make this more challenging, place your right hand on top of your left hip.
34
Sliding Elbow Plank
POPSUGAR Studios

Sliding Elbow Plank

  • Begin in an elbow plank position with a small, folded towel under each elbow. Keep your elbows directly under your shoulders, back flat (neutral spine), and core tight!
  • Slide your right elbow forward until your arm is nearly fully extended. With control, bring the right elbow back to center.
  • Repeat on the left side. This completes one rep.
  • If you need to modify, you can drop to your knees (while keeping your back straight and core tight); you'll still work the core and triceps!
35
French Twist
POPSUGAR Photography | Tamara Pridgett

French Twist

  • With your feet facing the left side of the room, place your hands on the floor shoulder width apart and your right foot in front of the left foot (heel to toe) with a towel under your feet.
  • Using your side waist (oblique) to pull, slide your feet/legs a few inches closer to your hands.
  • Next slide your feet/legs away from your hands. This completes one rep.
  • Focus on using your side waist (aka oblique) to do the work. Avoid bending your knees.
36
Circling Plank
POPSUGAR Studios

Circling Plank

  • Begin in an elbow plank with your forearms resting on the top of a ball.
  • Keeping your core strong and your body still, use your arms to roll the ball in a small clockwise circle. This completes one rep.
37
Plank Side Walk
POPSUGAR Studios

Plank Side Walk

  • Begin in plank position with your hands underneath your shoulders, body in one straight line.
  • Simultaneously cross your right hand over your left as you step your left foot to the left. Then simultaneously step your left hand and right foot to the left, so you're back in plank position. Your hands move together as your feet step apart.
  • Repeat this for five steps to the left and five steps to the right to complete a rep. Be sure to keep the hips low as you move, drawing the navel toward the spine.