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8 Incredible Core and 6 Pack Abs Exercises Better than Sit Ups

Take your training to the next level.

Every single one of these excellent core and abs exercises will help you to build a stronger, fitter and more injury resistant body. Without a single sit up in sight.

What are the Core Muscles?

The core muscles are the muscles that make up the trunk of the body. This includes the muscles of the abdomen, lower back, and hips.

These muscles play a vital role in providing stability and support for the spine, as well as power for movements such as lifting, twisting, and bending.

Some of the key core muscles include the rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, and obliques, as well as the erector spinae and multifidus muscles of the lower back. These are the muscles that are targeted in many exercises, such as sit-ups, planks, and back extensions.

1. Barbell Front Squat

The barbell front squat is a compound exercise that targets the quadriceps, glutes, and core muscles. It is performed by holding a barbell across the front of the shoulders, with the hands gripping the barbell and the elbows pointing forward. The lifter then squats down by bending the knees and hips, keeping the back straight and the chest up, before returning to the starting position.

The barbell front squat is considered a variation of the traditional back squat, in which the barbell is held behind the back on the shoulders. The front squat places more emphasis on the quadriceps and less on the hips and lower back, as well as targeting the core muscles as you need to maintain a more upright position to balance the weight in front.

It is an effective exercise for building lower body strength and size, as well as improving core stability and balance. It is also a great exercise for improving squat technique and overall fitness. However, it is also considered a more challenging exercise than the back squat, as it requires more flexibility in the shoulders and wrists and a higher level of balance and coordination.

How Does the Barbell Front Squat Improve the Core Muscles?

The barbell front squat targets the core muscles in several ways:

Upright position: To maintain proper form during the front squat, the lifter must keep a more upright torso position than in a back squat. This requires the core muscles, particularly the rectus abdominis and obliques, to work harder to keep the trunk stable and prevent the weight from pulling the lifter forward.

front squat lift weights How to Wear a Weight BeltSource: Photo courtesy of CrossFit Inc.

Balance: Because the barbell is held in front of the body, it requires more balance and stability to perform the exercise. The core muscles, including the transverse abdominis and the multifidus muscles of the lower back, work to keep the spine stable and the body in proper alignment.

Anti-rotation: The barbell front squat requires the lifter to resist rotation of the trunk, which is especially true in the bottom position of the squat. This is achieved through the activation of the oblique muscles and the lumbar multifidus muscles.

Posture: The barbell front squat requires a good posture throughout the whole exercise, and to maintain that, the core muscles are activated to keep the spine in a neutral position.

Overall, the barbell front squat is a great exercise for improving core strength and stability, as well as building lower body strength and size. It should be included in a well-rounded strength training program.

2. Reverse Crunch

The reverse crunch is an exercise that targets the rectus abdominis muscle, which is the muscle commonly referred to as the “abs.” The exercise is performed by lying on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. You then lift your hips towards your chest by contracting your abdominal muscles, keeping your legs at a 90-degree angle. The reverse crunch is an isolation exercise that targets the lower portion of the rectus abdominis, known as the “lower abs” and is typically done as an accessory exercise to complement other exercises such as sit-ups, leg raises, and planks.

To perform the exercise correctly, it is important to keep your lower back pressed into the floor throughout the movement and to avoid using momentum to lift your hips. You can also add variations like keeping your legs straight and lifting your hips off the floor, or holding a weight on your chest or behind your head to add resistance and make the exercise more challenging.

The reverse crunch is a valuable exercise for developing a strong and defined lower abdominal area, and can be incorporated into a core workout routine to help improve overall core strength and stability.

How Does the Reverse Crunch Improve the Core Muscles?

The reverse crunch is an exercise that specifically targets the rectus abdominis muscle, which is the muscle that runs vertically along the front of the abdomen and is commonly referred to as the “abs.” The exercise works the lower portion of the rectus abdominis muscle, which is known as the “lower abs.”

Targeted muscle activation: The reverse crunch specifically targets the rectus abdominis muscle, allowing you to isolate and work this muscle group. This is beneficial for people who want to focus on developing their lower abs.

Increased muscle endurance: By performing multiple repetitions of the reverse crunch, you can improve the endurance of your abdominal muscles, which will help you perform other exercises and activities that require core strength with more ease.

Improved trunk stability: The reverse crunch requires you to keep your lower back pressed into the floor throughout the movement, which helps to improve your trunk stability. This is important for overall core strength and stability, which can improve your posture and help prevent back pain.

Better balance: By performing the reverse crunch, you will also work on your balance and proprioception, as your body will have to adjust to the movement and control the movement to perform it correctly.

It’s important to note that the reverse crunch alone is not enough to develop a strong and defined core. A well-rounded core workout should include exercises that target all the muscle groups in the trunk and also incorporate exercises that improve stability and balance.

3. GHD Sit Up

The GHD (glute-hamstring developer) sit-up is an exercise that targets the rectus abdominis muscle (abs) and the muscles of the hip flexors and lower back. The exercise is performed on a GHD machine, which is a piece of gym equipment designed for developing the glutes, hamstrings, and core muscles.

To perform the GHD sit-up, you start by lying face up on the GHD machine with your feet secured in the foot plates and your hands holding on to the handles. From this position, you flex your hips and spine, bringing your upper body towards your knees, and then return to the starting position.

The GHD sit-up is considered a more advanced exercise than traditional sit-ups because it requires a greater range of motion and more strength in the abs, hip flexors, and lower back muscles. Additionally, it requires a good control of the movement and proper form to avoid injury.

The GHD sit-up is an effective exercise for developing a strong and defined abdominal area, as well as improving the strength and stability of the hip flexors and lower back muscles. It can be incorporated into a core workout routine to help improve overall core strength and stability.

How Does the GHD Sit Up Improve the Core and Abs Muscles?

The GHD (glute-hamstring developer) sit-up is a challenging exercise that targets the core and abs muscles in several ways:

Increased range of motion: The GHD sit-up requires a greater range of motion than traditional sit-ups, which allows you to work your abs and core muscles through a greater range of motion and thus engage more muscle fibers.

Targeted muscle activation: The GHD sit-up specifically targets the rectus abdominis muscle, the muscle that runs vertically along the front of the abdomen, and is commonly referred to as the “abs.” Additionally, it also targets the hip flexors and lower back muscles, which are important for overall core stability.

Improved trunk stability: The GHD sit-up requires good control of the movement and proper form to avoid injury, this helps to improve your trunk stability. This is important for overall core strength and stability, which can improve your posture and help prevent back pain.

Increased strength: The GHD sit-up is considered a more advanced exercise than traditional sit-ups and requires more strength in the abs, hip flexors, and lower back muscles. By performing the GHD sit-up, you can increase the strength of your core and abs muscles, which can translate to better performance in other exercises and activities that require core strength.

It’s important to note that the GHD sit-up should be done with proper form and technique, as well as start with low repetitions and weight until you build enough strength and stability to progress. It’s also recommended to have a trainer or coach to guide you through the exercise.

4. Hanging Leg Raise Exercise

The Hanging Leg Raise is an exercise that targets the rectus abdominis muscle (abs) as well as the muscles of the hip flexors and lower back. The exercise is performed by hanging from a pull-up bar with your hands gripping the bar and your body in a straight line. From this position, you raise your legs towards your chest by contracting your abdominal muscles, keeping your legs straight or slightly bent and then lower your legs back down.

This exercise can be modified by adding a twist to the movement, by bringing the knees towards one elbow as you raise your legs, this is known as the Hanging Knee Raise, this variation targets the oblique muscles.

The Hanging Leg Raise is considered a more advanced exercise than traditional leg raises done on the floor, as it requires more strength and stability in the abs, hip flexors, and lower back muscles. Additionally, it requires a good control of the movement and proper form to avoid injury.

The Hanging Leg Raise is an effective exercise for developing a strong and defined abdominal area, as well as improving the strength and stability of the hip flexors and lower back muscles. It can be incorporated into a core workout routine to help improve overall core strength and stability.

How Does the Hanging Leg Raise Exercise Improve the Core Muscles?

The Hanging Leg Raise is an exercise that targets the core muscles in several ways:

Increased range of motion: The Hanging Leg Raise requires a greater range of motion than traditional leg raises done on the floor, which allows you to work your abs and core muscles through a greater range of motion and thus engage more muscle fibers.

Targeted muscle activation: The Hanging Leg Raise specifically targets the rectus abdominis muscle, the muscle that runs vertically along the front of the abdomen, and is commonly referred to as the “abs.” Additionally, it also targets the hip flexors and lower back muscles, which are important for overall core stability.

Improved trunk stability: The Hanging Leg Raise requires good control of the movement and proper form to avoid injury, this helps to improve your trunk stability. This is important for overall core strength and stability, which can improve your posture and help prevent back pain.

Increased strength: The Hanging Leg Raise is considered a more advanced exercise than traditional leg raises done on the floor, and requires more strength in the abs, hip flexors, and lower back muscles. By performing the Hanging Leg Raise, you can increase the strength of your core and abs muscles, which can translate to better performance in other exercises and activities that require core strength.

It’s important to note that the Hanging Leg Raise should be done with proper form and technique, as well as start with low repetitions and weight until you build enough strength and stability to progress. It’s also recommended to have a trainer or coach to guide you through the exercise.

5. Cable Wood Chop Exercise

The Cable Wood Chop exercise is a core and full-body exercise that targets the muscles of the abs, obliques, back, and shoulders. The exercise is performed using a cable machine, which is a piece of gym equipment that allows you to adjust the resistance and direction of the pull.

To perform the Cable Wood Chop, you stand facing the cable machine with your feet shoulder-width apart and grasp the cable handle with both hands. From this position, you rotate your torso and pull the cable down and across your body, as if you were chopping wood. You then return to the starting position by reversing the movement. The exercise can be done in a standing or kneeling position.

The Cable Wood Chop is considered an advanced exercise that requires a good level of strength, stability, and coordination. It is particularly effective for targeting the oblique muscles and the muscles of the back, as well as the shoulders and core.

The Cable Wood Chop can be an effective exercise for developing a strong and defined core, as well as improving overall strength and stability. It should be included in a well-rounded strength training program, but it is important to perform it with proper form and technique, start with a light weight and progress gradually to avoid injury.

How Does the Cable Wood Chop Exercise Improve the Core Muscles?

The Cable Wood Chop exercise is a full-body exercise that targets the core muscles in several ways:

Targeted muscle activation: The Cable Wood Chop specifically targets the oblique muscles, which are located on the sides of the abdomen, as well as the muscles of the back, shoulders and core. This allows you to isolate and work these muscle groups effectively.

Increased range of motion: The Cable Wood Chop requires a greater range of motion than traditional exercises, which allows you to work your core muscles through a greater range of motion and thus engage more muscle fibers.

Improved trunk stability: The Cable Wood Chop requires good control of the movement and proper form to avoid injury, this helps to improve your trunk stability. This is important for overall core strength and stability, which can improve your posture and help prevent back pain.

Increased strength: The Cable Wood Chop is considered an advanced exercise that requires a good level of strength, stability, and coordination. By performing the Cable Wood Chop, you can increase the strength of your core and oblique muscles, which can translate to better performance in other exercises and activities that require core strength and stability.

Anti-rotation: The Cable Wood Chop requires the lifter to resist rotation of the trunk, which is especially true in the bottom position of the exercise. This is achieved through the activation of the oblique muscles and the lumbar multifidus muscles.

It’s important to note that the Cable Wood Chop should be done with proper form and technique, as well as start with low repetitions and weight until you build enough strength and stability to progress. It’s also recommended to have a trainer or coach to guide you through the exercise.

6. Russian Twist Exercise

The Russian Twist is an exercise that targets the oblique muscles, which are located on the sides of the abdomen. It also works the rectus abdominis and the muscles of the lower back. The exercise is performed by sitting on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. You then lean back slightly, keeping your back straight, and lift your feet off the floor, balancing on your sitting bones. From this position, you rotate your torso to one side, bringing your hands towards the floor, and then twist to the other side.

The Russian Twist can be done with or without added weight, using a medicine ball, dumbbell or kettlebell. This added weight will increase the resistance and make the exercise more challenging.

The Russian Twist is considered an effective exercise for targeting the oblique muscles and strengthening the core. It improves rotational stability, balance and coordination. Additionally, the Russian Twist can help to improve posture and prevent lower back pain.

It’s important to note that the Russian Twist should be done with proper form and technique, as well as start with low repetitions and weight until you build enough strength and stability to progress. Also, keep your core tight and avoid twisting too far, this will help to avoid injury.

How Does the Russian Twist Exercise Help Improve the Core Muscles?

The Russian Twist is an exercise that specifically targets the oblique muscles, which are located on the sides of the abdomen, as well as the muscles of the lower back. The exercise helps to improve the core muscles in several ways:

Targeted muscle activation: The Russian Twist specifically targets the oblique muscles, allowing you to isolate and work this muscle group effectively. This is beneficial for people who want to focus on developing their oblique muscles.

Increased muscle endurance: By performing multiple repetitions of the Russian Twist, you can improve the endurance of your oblique muscles, which will help you perform other exercises and activities that require core strength with more ease.

Improved rotational stability: The Russian Twist requires you to rotate your torso and resist rotation of the trunk, this helps to improve your rotational stability and balance.

Improved posture: The Russian Twist requires you to maintain a good posture throughout the whole exercise, this helps to improve your overall posture and prevent lower back pain.

Anti-rotation: The Russian Twist requires the lifter to resist rotation of the trunk, which is especially true in the bottom position of the exercise. This is achieved through the activation of the oblique muscles and the lumbar multifidus muscles.

Overall, the Russian Twist is a great exercise for targeting the oblique muscles and improving core strength and stability. It should be included in a well-rounded strength training program. But is important to perform it with proper form and technique, start with low repetitions and weight until you build enough strength and stability to progress.

7. L Sit Exercise

The L-Sit is a bodyweight exercise that targets the muscles of the abs, hip flexors, and lower back. The exercise is performed by sitting on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you and your hands behind you for support. From this position, you lift your hips off the ground and extend your legs, so that your body forms an “L” shape. The L-Sit is typically done as an accessory exercise to complement other exercises such as sit-ups, leg raises, and planks.

athlete performs hardest core and abs exercisesSource: KoolShooters on pexels

The L-Sit exercise is considered an advanced exercise that requires a good level of strength, stability, and coordination. It is particularly effective for targeting the rectus abdominis, hip flexors and the muscles of the lower back.

The L-Sit can be performed on parallel bars, parallettes, or on the floor with the hands behind you or in front of you, this variation is known as the V-Sit. Additionally, it can be made more challenging by adding a dip or a press movement to the exercise.

The L-Sit is an effective exercise for developing a strong and defined core, as well as improving overall strength and stability. It should be included in a well-rounded strength training program, but it is important to perform it with proper form and technique, start with low repetitions and progress gradually to avoid injury.

How Does the L Sit Exercises Improve the Core Muscles?

The L-Sit is an exercise that targets the core muscles in several ways:

Targeted muscle activation: The L-Sit specifically targets the rectus abdominis muscle, which is the muscle commonly referred to as the “abs,” as well as the hip flexors and lower back muscles. This allows you to isolate and work these muscle groups effectively.

Static Hold Abs ExercisesSource: Unsplash

Increased muscle endurance: By performing multiple repetitions of the L-Sit, you can improve the endurance of your abdominal, hip flexors, and lower back muscles, which will help you perform other exercises and activities that require core strength with more ease.

Improved trunk stability: The L-Sit requires good control of the movement and proper form to avoid injury, this helps to improve your trunk stability. This is important for overall core strength and stability, which can improve your posture and help prevent back pain.

Increased strength: The L-Sit is considered an advanced exercise that requires a good level of strength, stability, and coordination. By performing the L-Sit, you can increase the strength of your core and abs muscles, which can translate to better performance in other exercises and activities that require core strength.

Improved balance and coordination: The L-Sit requires you to balance your body weight on your hands and lift your legs, this improves your balance and coordination.

It’s important to note that the L-Sit should be done with proper form and technique, as well as start with low repetitions and progress gradually to avoid injury. It’s also recommended to have a trainer or coach to guide you through the exercise.

8. Hollow Rock

The Hollow Rock is a bodyweight exercise that targets the muscles of the abs, lower back, and hip flexors. The exercise is performed by lying on your back with your arms and legs extended and lifted off the floor. From this position, you rock your body back and forth, keeping your lower back pressed into the floor and your abs tight. The Hollow Rock exercise is similar to the Hollow Hold exercise, but with a dynamic movement.

The Hollow Rock exercise can be made more challenging by adding a leg or arm movement to the exercise, such as lifting one leg or one arm at a time.

The Hollow Rock is an advanced exercise that requires a good level of core strength, stability, and control. It is particularly effective for targeting the rectus abdominis and the muscles of the lower back and hip flexors.

The Hollow Rock is an effective exercise for developing a strong and defined core, as well as improving overall strength and stability. It should be included in a well-rounded strength training program, but it is important to perform it with proper form and technique, start with low repetitions and progress gradually to avoid injury.

How Does the Hollow Rock Exercise Improve the Core Muscles?

The Hollow Rock exercise is a bodyweight exercise that targets the core muscles in several ways:

Targeted muscle activation: The Hollow Rock specifically targets the rectus abdominis muscle, which is the muscle commonly referred to as the “abs,” as well as the lower back and hip flexor muscles. This allows you to isolate and work these muscle groups effectively.

Increased muscle endurance: By performing multiple repetitions of the Hollow Rock, you can improve the endurance of your abdominal, lower back and hip flexors muscles, which will help you perform other exercises and activities that require core strength with more ease.

Improved trunk stability: The Hollow Rock requires good control of the movement and proper form to maintain the hollow position, this helps to improve your trunk stability. This is important for overall core strength and stability, which can improve your posture and help prevent back pain.

Increased strength: The Hollow Rock is considered an advanced exercise that requires a good level of strength, stability, and control. By performing the Hollow Rock, you can increase the strength of your core and abs muscles, which can translate to better performance in other exercises and activities that require core strength.

Improved coordination: The Hollow Rock requires you to coordinate your breathing and movement, this improves your overall coordination and control of your body.

It’s important to note that the Hollow Rock should be done with proper form and technique, as well as start with low repetitions and progress gradually to avoid injury. It’s also recommended to have a trainer or coach to guide you through the exercise.

How Do Strong Core Muscles Help to Prevent Injury?

Strong core muscles help to prevent injury in several ways:

Improved posture: Strong core muscles help to improve posture by maintaining balance and stability in the trunk, which can reduce the stress on the spine and joints. This can help to prevent back pain and injuries in the lower back and shoulders.

Increased stability: Strong core muscles help to increase stability in the trunk and pelvis, which can help to prevent injuries during activities such as lifting, twisting, or bending.

Better balance: Strong core muscles help to improve balance, which can reduce the risk of falls and injuries.

Better control and coordination: Strong core muscles help to improve control and coordination, which can help to prevent injuries during activities that require precise movements, such as sports or other physical activities.

Reduced risk of herniated disc: Strong core muscles can help to reduce the risk of herniated discs by supporting the spine and reducing the load on the intervertebral discs.

It’s important to note that core muscles are not only the abs but also include the muscles around the spine, hips, and shoulders. A well-rounded core strength training program should target all these muscles groups to achieve optimal injury prevention.

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