Nine Toning, Crunch-free Ab Routines for Starters, Pros

Traditional crunches, while at work in your abdominal muscles, may not be the only way to a slimmer and flatter midsection, fitness experts say. To achieve a toned, and impressive stomach, one must engage the entire core which means all the muscles in the upper and lower torso, including the abs, and obliques (abdominal side muscles). Here are a few abs-trimming exercise routines that involve no crunches, designed for starters and pros alike.

Basic Routines:

Funky Abs. This may be one of the easiest exercises for a summer-ready stomach for beginners. Start by standing with your feet slightly apart below your shoulders, and engage abs while slowly bending your knees. Tilt your pelvis forward so your back is curved. Come back to the center and reverse the motion, tilting the pelvis backward. Perform this exercise 15 times.

Ballerina Twist. Placing a towel or mat on the floor, work your abs while sitting with your legs straight out, pressed against one another. Lean back with your elbow and forearms flat on the floor, fingers pointing forward. Lift your right arm over your head like that of a ballerina, with the other arm flat on the floor to support your weight as you shift your body to the left without moving your buttocks. Come back to the center and do the same routine using your left arm, shifting the body to the opposite side. Perform this routine 20 times, alternating either side.

Twist and Drop. This exercise does not only focus on working the abs and obliques, but also targets the arms and legs. Start off by standing with your feet a little wider than your shoulders. Bend forward at hips and place palms flat on the floor directly beneath the shoulders with hands at least 12 inches from feet. While looking at the floor, work your abs and lift left foot off the floor. Keeping left leg straight, sweep it across the front of your right foot, with the right knee bended. Then decline onto the floor using the hips without changing the position of your left leg. Do it all over again twelve times, making sure you alternate both sides.

Intermediate Workouts:

Core Circles. Begin by standing with feet at a distance similar to your shoulders’ width, and work your abs as you slowly bend your knees. With your hands on your thighs, fingers facing each other, do a clockwise circling motion using the torso pushing rib cage toward the left hip and making a half circle to the right. Continue the circle to start again. Perform 15 reps, switching directions as you repeat the process.

Ballerina Leg Lift. Using a mat, engage the abdominal muscles by starting on a sitting position with legs straight out and thighs pressed together. Making sure that the elbows, forearms, and fingers flat on the floor, slowly lean back. Then proceed by lifting your right arm above your head with the other arm still flat on the floor. Similar to the ballerina twist routine, twist your torso but instead of returning to the center immediately, raise the upper body as well as the left leg for about 45 degrees. Come back to the center and then do it on the other side. Perform 20 reps, switching to both sides.

Drop and Lift. Start off by doing the “twist and drop” move from the Ballerina Leg Lift, with the left leg extended, right knee bent, and hands flat on the floor beneath the shoulders. While in this position, raise your left leg toward the right knee, and then drop. Lift your leg five times, go back to the starting position, and then switch sides. Do it all over again 12 times, alternating both sides.

Advanced Core Exercises:

Egyptian Core Circles. This work out is similar to the Core Circles routine with an “Egyptian” twist. Start off by standing with feet at a comfortable distance, preferably similar to the shoulders’ width, while working your abs as you bend your knees. Make a triangular frame with your head in the center by raising both arms above your head, making your palms face and meet, elbows and shoulders relaxed. Engage in a circular motion using the torso going clockwise, with only half a circle to the right hip, and finishing the circle until you go back to your first position. Perform three sets making sure you shift between going clockwise and counter-clockwise.

Double Ballerina. Execute the first three steps of the Ballerina Leg Lift routine. While the right arm is raised overhead and left arm flat on the floor, twist torso to the left and lift both your left and right legs for about 45 degrees. Untwist the body using your abs, come back to center, drop your legs. Then shift body to the right and lift both legs, untwist again before lowering your legs. Do it all over again 20 times, switching both sides.

Drop/Arm Lift. Start off by doing the first three moves of the Twist and Drop exercise, making sure that the left leg is straight out, right knee bent, and hands flat on the floor right below the shoulders before proceeding to the next step. Lift right arm above your head, and raise left leg going to the right knee, then decline. Perform five leg lifts and then go back to the beginning. Do the routine 12 times alternately on both sides.

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