12 Crunches and Sit-Up Alternative That Will Give You A Shredded Midriff –


Ask someone what their favorite ab exercise is, and they’re most likely to reply with crunches. 

We are yet to meet a soul who thinks abs are not desirable. Washboard abs are much more than six tiles on your stomach. It’s a normal human tendency to judge a book by its cover. People with abs are considered dedicated, disciplined, and not to mention – insanely attractive. 

In the age of Instagram, abs have turned into a status symbol, and if you know how to play the social media game right, they can get you a decent following. Building a shredded midriff is easier said than done, or else everyone would be walking around with a six-pack.

Crunches are a crowd favorite when it comes to ab training. People are so sold on the crunches that they never question if there’s a better way to build a solid midsection. Walk into a gym, and you’ll see scores of people performing different variations of crunches in hopes of crafting the midsection of their dreams.

If you’re someone who has been crunching away his time but has no results to show for it, this article is the revelation you need.

Table of Contents Show

  • 1. Flutter Kicks
  • 2. Planks
  • 3. Side Planks
  • 4. Alternating Leg Lowers
  • 5. Ab Wheel Rollouts
  • 6. Glute-Bridge March
  • 7. Russian Twists
  • 8. Lying Windshield Wipers
  • 9. TRX Mountain Climbers
  • 10. Hanging Leg Raises
  • 11. Stability Ball Knee Tucks
  • 12. Barbell Oblique Twists
  • 13. Dragon Flags
  • Conclusion

12 Crunch Alternatives That Will Take Your Ab Game To The Next Level

Most people think that doing a few crunches will get them a shredded six-pack. It is the reason why they’re never able to build abs. You’re never going to get a superhero midsection by doing a few crunches.

Your ab workout sessions should include core, stability, and oblique exercises in addition to the upper, middle, lower ab movements to ensure the overall development of your midsection.

1. Flutter Kicks

Flutter KicksFlutter KicksFlutter Kicks

Lower abs are the most stubborn muscle group for most people. If the legends are believed, only the worthy can carve out and build definition in their lower abs. Exercises like crunches predominately work the upper abdomen and do little for the lower half of your torso. 

Flutter kicks are an effective tool for building your lower abs as they keep constant tension on the target muscles throughout the exercise. 


  1. Lie down on an exercise mat with your arms extended at your sides.
  2. While keeping your legs straight, lift both your feet until they are a few inches off the floor.
  3. Perform alternating flutter kicks to failure.

If you find the exercise too easy, you can add resistance by wearing ankle weights. Your goal should be to do 20-40 kicks with each leg.

Learn more about flutter kicks here!

2. Planks

Planks ExercisePlanks ExercisePlanks Exercise

Planks are arguably the best exercise for building core strength and stability. A strong core will not only help you in crafting a six-pack but will also make you better at performing compound exercises. 


  1. Get into position by propping yourself up on your elbows, forearms, and toes.
  2. Hold your body in a straight line throughout the exercise.
  3. Keep your core contracted and maintain your spine’s natural line.
  4. Make sure you’re not letting your hips drop or form a bridge while performing the planks. Doing so will take the tension off your core.


If you can hold the plank for longer than a minute, you could add resistance by placing weight plates on your back.

3. Side Planks

Side PlankSide PlankSide Plank

Obliques are the fish gill-like muscles at the sides of your abs. They are one of the most overlooked muscles and get a stepmotherly treatment when it comes to core training. Training the obliques is crucial as it builds the separation between your abs and sides. Without chiseled obliques, your abdomen would look flat. 


  1. Place your right elbow under your shoulder on the floor so that your lower arm is perpendicular to your body.
  2. Place one foot on top of the other and lift your body off the floor.
  3. Hold your body in a straight line while contracting your core.
  4. Your goal should be to hold a strict side plank for one minute without letting your hips dip.
  5. Rest for 15 seconds and repeat on the left side.

You could also perform side plank pulses, orthodox plank pulses, and even side walking planks to add variety to your workouts. 

4. Alternating Leg Lowers

Alternating leg lowers is a unilateral exercise. Unilateral movements are great for fixing muscular imbalances and improving your external obliques and spinal stability. A study proves that unilateral exercises can help eradicate muscle imbalances and build strength in one side by training the other. Pretty impressive, huh?


  1. Lie on your back with your arms extended straight at your sides.
  2. Bend at your knees and lift your legs until your upper legs are perpendicular and your lower legs are parallel to the floor.
  3. Straighten your right leg by extending at the knee, and slowly lower it until your heels are a few inches off the floor. 
  4. Return to the starting position and repeat with your left leg.

Since this exercise works your lower abdomen, you could also perform leg raises in its place. Use ankle weight if you want to add resistance to the movement. 

5. Ab Wheel Rollouts

Ab Wheel RolloutsAb Wheel RolloutsAb Wheel Rollouts

Ab wheel rollouts are right there at the top of the brutal ab exercises list. The exercise is for advanced lifters. Ab wheel rollouts not only build a solid core, but they demand one too. They make the crunches feel like a walk in the park. 


  1. Get into position by kneeling on the floor and holding onto an ab wheel.
  2. Place the ab wheel under your shoulders as you start in a semi-contracted crunching position.
  3. Take a deep breath and push the ab wheel forward until your upper body is in a straight line.
  4. Now comes the hard part. With a slow and controlled movement, roll back using your core.
  5. Repeat for the recommended reps.

If you don’t have access to an ab wheel at your gym, you can use a barbell with a quarter plate at each side for the exercise.

Learn more: Rollouts: Benefits, Technique, And Alternatives For Stronger Abs

6. Glute-Bridge March

A strong core is a must if you want your abs to pop. The glute-bridge march will help build a solid core foundation. Since you’ll be balancing your whole body on a single leg for most of the exercise, your stability will improve by leaps and bounds. 


  1. Start by lying supine on your back with your arms extended straight at your sides.
  2. Plant your feet firmly on the ground. 
  3. Elevate your hips while pushing through your heels. 
  4. Tighten your glutes and contract your core as you reach the top of the movement.
  5. The first half of the exercise should look like a bodyweight hip thrust. 
  6. Bring your right knee towards your chest while balancing your body on your left leg.
  7. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat with the other leg.

Learn more: Glute Bridge: 5 Effective Variations For A Better Butt

7. Russian Twists

Russian Twist ExercisesRussian Twist ExercisesRussian Twist

It is one of those exercises that look easy but make you beg for mercy when you’re halfway through your first set. Russian twists are one of the most underutilized abdomen exercises. If you’re serious about your ab gains, the Russian twists should be a part of your exercise arsenal. 


  1. Sit on an exercise mat with an upright torso.
  2. Grab a weight plate with both your hands and hold it next to your chest.
  3. Bend at your knees and plant your heels on the floor with your toes lifted off the floor.
  4. Slowly lower your torso backward until you’re at a 60-75-degree angle to the floor.
  5. Extend your arms forward until they are above your knees.
  6. While exhaling, twist to your right side.
  7. Slowly return to the starting position as you breathe in.
  8. Repeat on the left side.
  9. Alternate between sides for the recommended reps.

As you get better at the Russian twist, you could perform this exercise using heavier weights or a decline bench. A decline bench will ensure there’s constant tension on your abs. 

8. Lying Windshield Wipers

Lying windshield wipers can take some time to master. They work your core, obliques, and spine. You’ll see an improvement in your core strength and mobility as you perform this exercise regularly.


  1. Lie on an exercise mat with your arms and legs extended.
  2. Place your hands under your buttocks for stability.
  3. While keeping your knees locked, lift your legs until they are perpendicular to the floor.
  4. Without turning at your torso, lower your legs to your right side until they are a few inches off the floor.
  5. Return to the starting position and alternate between sides for the recommended reps.

As you build core strength, you could perform windshield wipers on a pull-up bar. You could also use elbow loops/ab straps to isolate your core and remove your grip strength from the equation. 

9. TRX Mountain Climbers

Did we tell you about the dreaded lower abs? TRX mountain climbers are another incredibly effective exercise to get rid of the stubborn lower abdomen fat.


  1. Adjust the TRX bands so that the loops are at knee height.
  2. Get into a planking position and place your ankles in the TRX band loops. 
  3. Bring your right knee to your chest while breathing out.
  4. Return to the starting position and repeat with your left leg.
  5. Alternate between legs to failure.

Twisting mountain climbers are a great exercise to work the obliques and build a shredded midriff. Twisting mountain climbers are what crunches can never be. 

Also read: 5 Best TRX Chest Exercises (Plus Workout) For Bigger Chest Gains

10. Hanging Leg Raises

Hanging Leg RaisesHanging Leg RaisesHanging Leg Raises

If you prefer isolation exercises over the compound lifts, it doesn’t get any better than hanging leg raises. Most people make the mistake of using momentum to complete the reps while performing the exercise. Swinging back and forth takes off the tension from your abs.


  1. Grab onto a pull-up bar with a shoulder-width grip.
  2. Contract your abs and keep your toes pointed forward throughout the exercise.
  3. Maintain a slight bend in your knees and lift your legs until they are parallel to the floor.
  4. Return to the starting position with a slow and controlled motion.
  5. Repeat for the recommended reps.

Roman chair leg raises are incredible at isolating the abs. If you find this exercise hard, you could start by lifting your knees to chest height. 

11. Stability Ball Knee Tucks

Only a few other training tools engage your core as the stability ball. Apart from your abdominal, the stability ball knee tucks work your shoulders, arms, and glutes.

A 2014 study found that older adults who did 20-minute workouts with a stability ball five times per week increased their core, back, and glute strength.


  1. Get into a push-up position and place your lower legs on a stability ball.
  2. Pull your knees to your chest while breathing out and contracting your abs.
  3. Return to the starting position as you breathe out. 

12. Barbell Oblique Twists

Barbell oblique twists will make you forget about the crunches. The exercise might look simple but will annihilate your abdomen. 


  1. Secure one end of a barbell in a corner under dumbbells or weight plates.
  2. Grab the other end with both your hands in front of your chest.
  3. With your arms extended, lower the barbell to your right side by twisting at your torso until your hands are at waist level.
  4. Return to the starting position and repeat on the left side.
  5. Alternate between sides for the recommended reps.

Woodchoppers performed on a cable pulley machine are a terrific substitute for the barbell oblique twists. 

Bonus Exercise

13. Dragon Flags

Dragon FlagsDragon FlagsDragon Flags

Who doesn’t love a bonus? By the time you finish with the dragon flags, you’ll have other opinions about bonuses. The exercise was made famous by one low-key person who went by the name, Bruce Lee. It’s okay if you have never heard about him.


  1. Lie on a bench where you can hold onto something near your head for stability.
  2. While keeping your legs straight and core tight, lift them off the bench and up in the air.
  3. Only your shoulders and upper back should be on the table while the rest of your body is at a 45-90 degree angle.
  4. Lower your body until it is a few inches off the bench and then bring them right back up.

Check Out: 20 Beautiful Fitness Models On Instagram With Amazing Abs


If you want fitness magazine-worthy abs, sticking to crunches isn’t going to cut it. While the exercises mentioned in the article will help you build a chiseled midsection, you should know about the role of the other two factors which have a say in your results:

  1. Diet – Remember: abs are built in the kitchen and crafted in the gym. What you put in your body will determine if you’re going to have a shredded midriff. You should be following a protein-rich balanced nutrition program to build abs the Greek Gods would approve. 
  2. Rest and Recovery – No matter how hard you work in the gym, you’re not going to see results if you’re not giving your muscles enough time to recuperate. For optimal gains, you shouldn’t be training your abs more than thrice a week. Sleep anywhere between 7-8 hours every night to shorten the recovery times between workouts. 
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