Here are exercises that are far better for you than crunches:
1. Kettlebell Juggler
The faster you go, the better it will be! This one works not just your abs, but your entire core as well. It's even great for a lower body workout, and it definitely deserves its place in your workout.
2. Skier Swing
Do this exercise with a pair of kettlebells or dumbbells, but go easy! It can cause back injuries if you swing too much, so make sure to keep your form tight as you swing those arms like a skier.
3. Three Point Core Touch
Talk about a core challenge! This is an incredibly difficult exercise that is not for the faint of heart, but it's amazing for toning your core, stretching your groin and increasing lower body flexibility.
4. Single Arm Overhead Press
Work out your core while shredding those shoulder muscles. Just using one dumbbell instead of two will throw off your balance, which forces your core to stay tight to compensate. It's great for your abs and side muscles.
5. Farmer's Walk
This is an oddly effective exercise. You do nothing more than grip two dumbbells by your side and walk. Sounds silly, but your core has to stabilize your upper body with each step you take. It's guaranteed to burn in no time.
6. Rotational Side Plank
Want to take it to the next level? Try this exercise, which focuses on your obliques while setting your ab muscles on fire. It's not for the faint of heart, but it's guaranteed to be far more effective than crunches.
Take your plank to the next level by doing the Breakdancer. Your upper body never moves, but the shifting of your feet places an amazing strain on your abs. It's an ab blaster that works like a charm.
8. Kettlebell Hot Potato Squat
Squat, throw the kettlebell into the air, and balance all the while. It may sound like child's play, but it's an exercise that is guaranteed to have your core burning and shaking. Just be careful--throwing a weight into the air can be dangerous once you tire.
Sticking with the basics can work well. If you're a newbie, all the fancy exercises above may just be too tough for you. The plank is a great exercise that is simple and static so there's little risk of injury. Plus, there are awesome variations to make it tougher once you get the hang of it.
10. Swiss Ball Jackknife
Using a Swiss/exercise ball can make this exercise very intense, and you'll find your arms and shoulders are soon shaking along with your core.
Some people get lucky and are born with fit, toned bodies. Andy Peloquin is not one of those people... Fitness has come hard for him, and he's had to work for it. His trials have led him to becoming a martial artist, an NFPT-certified fitness trainer, and a man passionate about exercise, diet and healthy living. He loves to exercise--he does so six days a week--and loves to share his passion for fitness and health with others.