5 Fun Variations on Ab Workouts

Written By: Carina Wolff

 

We all want some killer abs and a strong core, but doing crunches everyday can get pretty old. Sure, the plank is there when you need it, and there’s always those good ole’ bicycle crunches, but there’s no fun in doing the same workouts over and over again. And if you’re not having fun, you’re probably not going to be motivated to keep working out.  

 

In fact, research shows that switching up your workout routine from time to time can actually help you stick to your workouts. One study from the University of Florida found that participants who modified their workouts every two weeks were more inclined to stick to their exercise programs.[1]Not only that, but they also enjoyed them more.

 

While those sit-ups and fore-arm planks might seem tried and true, it’s likely time to keep things interesting and add a little variations to your ab workouts. Thankfully, there are plenty of little tweaks you can incorporate into some of your favorite existing moves to start working out some new muscles and keep your exercise routine fresh.

 

Side Plank Crunch

 

Take your side planks to the next level by combining them with a standard crunch. This bodyweight exercise targets your sides as well as your stomach. Begin in a side plank, and rest your free hand behind your head. Keep your hips lifted, bend your knee, and bring your leg towards your top shoulder to touch your elbow. Extend your leg back to the starting position. Try to keep your body straight, avoiding leaning forward or backward. In addition to working your obliques, side plank crunches also provides strength and stability to the rest of your body.[2][3]

 

Russian Twist

 

This sit-up variation is great for core strength and balance. Begin seated, and lean back slightly. Keep your heels on the floor and lift your feet by a few inches.[4]Hold your arms straight in front of you, keeping your back at a 45-degree angle from the floor. Twist your torso as far as you can to the right without arching your back, hold for a second, and then twist to the left. Continue alternating sides while keeping your core engaged. This can also be done on a stability ball[5], or if you want to get even more advanced, you can add in weights for more resistance. Russian Twists work out all the muscles in your core as well as strengthen your spine.

 

Reverse Crunch

 

Switch the flip on your regular crunches for a move that targets your lower abs. Lie on your back with your feet on the ground and your arms by your side. Press your lower back to the ground, and lift your knees up to a 90-degree angle. Use your core to pull your knees into your chest and lip your hips off the floor, keeping the 90-degree angle in your knees. Hold the crunch at the top, and then with control, lower your hips back to their original position. Focus on using your muscles, rather than momentum, to switch into each position. Reverse crunches, which can be a fun alternative to your typical crunch, focus on strengthening the bottom portion of your rectus abdominis as well as your transverse abdominis[6], the deeper part of your abs [7][8]

 

Single-Leg Squat

 

Most people associate squats with glutes, but squats also require a good amount of work from your abs. Doing a single-leg variation adds even more challenge to your core as you work to stabilize your whole body.[9]To do this full-body exercise, begin by standing on one leg, with your toes pointed directly forward. Lift the other leg and bend it slightly. Keep your arms by your side and your back straight. Slightly raise the non-supported leg, and lower to squat position in the supporting leg, keeping the knee centered. Then raise your body and extend the leg back to where you started. To kick things up a notch, you can use dumbbells for weighted single-leg squats. This will help develop strength, coordination, and balance.

 

Plank Tuck Jump

 

Nothing says fun like incorporating some jumps into your workout routine. This plyometric workout will help strengthen your abs as well as get your heart pumping. Begin in a plank position, with your arms a little wider than shoulder-length apart.[10]Tighten your core, shift your weight into your hands, and bend your knees. Keeping your hands on the ground, jump up, lifting your hips in the air and bringing your legs into a tuck position. Your legs should point towards your chest with your knees, and your pelvis should be moving upward.[11]Land into a tuck position with your feet on the floor, and then finish off the move by jumping back into a plank.

 

There are more ab workouts available to you then you may realize, and by making a few existing tweaks to the ab workouts you do know, your workouts can become more enjoyable and diverse. This will allow you to not only work out more muscles, but encourage you to work out more often.

 

[1]https://news.ufl.edu/archive/2000/10/adding-variety-to-an-exercise-routine-helps-increase-adherence.html

[2]https://www.popsugar.com/fitness/How-Do-Side-Plank-Crunches-37169683

[3]https://gethealthyu.com/exercise/side-plank-crunch/

[4]https://www.livestrong.com/slideshow/1011363-21-situp-variations-wont-totally-hate/?slide=19

[5]https://www.acefitness.org/education-and-resources/lifestyle/exercise-library/65/russian-twist

[6]https://www.fitnessmagazine.com/workout/abs/how-to-do-reverse-crunches/

[7]https://www.womenshealthmag.com/fitness/a25908420/reverse-crunch-exercise/

[8]https://www.acefitness.org/education-and-resources/lifestyle/exercise-library/76/reverse-crunch

[9]https://www.verywellfit.com/build-balance-and-strength-with-single-leg-squats-3119147

[10]https://www.shape.com/fitness/workouts/15-unexpected-exercises-work-your-abs?slide=01bf0dfc-6b0a-4828-a4f2-5b1ab1c9eb98#01bf0dfc-6b0a-4828-a4f2-5b1ab1c9eb98

[11]https://musqle.com/plank-tuck-jumps