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Science & Health

Fitness Friday: Five Crunch-less Ab Exercises

Photo courtesy of Allison Daniel

Tired of doing crunches to no avail? Don’t know what other exercises to do?

There are a million different and more effective ways to work your abs than just raising your head off the ground. Mojo has compiled a list of five of these exercises that will work your core muscles and help you mix up your workout routine.

A few things to remember about your abdominal muscles: They’re a muscle group too. They need rest days just like every other muscle group in your body. In addition, in my opinion, every workout should be a core workout. Whenever you’re lifting anything, you should be thinking about bracing your core and keeping it tight for a more effective lift (especially when you’re lifting anything overhead).

With that said, here’s the five exercises, listed from easiest to most difficult.

1. Plank variations

You’ve probably seen people doing planks before or done them yourself, but there’s plenty of ways to change up your plank in your workout. Here are a few options, all starting from a good plank:

  • Shoulder taps: Alternate tapping the opposite shoulder with each hand. Try to keep your hips square to the ground.
  • Plank jacks: From the regular plank, jump your legs out and in like you would if you were doing a standing jumping jack. They key to this is to make sure you aren’t coming too far off the ground and are keeping your butt down. You could also do alternating toe taps out to the side if the plank jacks are too intense.
  • Side plank taps: From a side plank, lower your hips to tap the ground, and then come back to the starting position.

2. Dead bugs

The name of this exercises is pretty accurate. You start off in the “dead bug” position, laying on your back with your feet and hands up in the air (feet stacked above your hips, hands stacked above your shoulders). You can also start with your legs at 90 degrees for an easier modification. Alternate lowering each leg and arm to the ground, then try both legs, then all four limbs. Try not to let any limb touch the ground and make sure you’re pulling your belly button in and keeping your lower back on the ground.

3. L-sit hold

On a set of parallel bars (you can do this on a pull-up/dip machine in the courtyard or conditioning room of the Wooden Center), start with your arms extended, then lift your legs up so that your whole body looks like an L. Hold for as long as you can, and try to keep your shoulders down and away from your ears.

4. Hollow rocks

Start in a hollow position on the ground: lying on your back, arms and legs extended, then lift your arms and legs a few inches off the ground. Holding this position may be challenging enough as it is depending on your fitness level. Again, focus on pulling your belly button in and keeping your lower back on the ground. To start the movement, slightly lower your legs and raise your arms, then rock back, lowering your arms and raising your legs. Continue rocking back and forth, making sure that you’re only moving your limbs a few inches up and down (the smaller the movement, the harder it is).

5. Toes to bar (or knees to elbows)

Photo courtesy of Allison Daniel

Photo courtesy of Allison Daniel

Photo courtesy of Allison Daniel

As shown in the photos above, this exercise starts with you hanging on a pull-up bar (you can find these at Drake Stadium or in Pardee Gym). To perform the exercise, flex your hips and raise your feet until your toes are touching the bar overhead, then come back to starting. This is a very challenging exercise and also requires grip strength, so I would suggest having a base of core and grip strength before attempting it. A slightly easier modification is knees to elbows, in which you’re simply raising your knees to your elbows instead of your toes all the way up to the bar.

What’s your favorite ab exercise? Comment below or tweet us @dbmojo.¬†


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