Conventional crunches off the floor is far from functional. They will also do nothing for attaining flat abs if that’s what you’re after.

 

Crunches promote forward head posture and shortens your upper abdominals, which restricts the ribcage and prevents the diaphragm from expanding. This is bad!

 

In order to breathe effectively – meaning that we are oxygenating our body with each breath – we need to be able to expand the diaphragm.  Performing crunches off the floor will mean that your body has to use accessory respiratory muscles and breathe from the neck, shoulders and chest area.  Inevitably being an avid cruncher will lead you to bad posture, poor breathing and organ dysfunction.

 

The great news is that you don’t need crunches to get flat abs!  In fact, most ab exercises done off the floor only use a small portion of your abdominals anyways, so it makes more sense to use as many muscles as possible to get results.

 

Here are a few of my favourite core exercises that use lots of lovely core muscles and offer results!

1. Cable Oblique Twists – Love, love, love the cable machine to work the obliques! It provides just the right amount of tension while performing the movement and allows you to use the whole body fluidly.

 

Key Pointers:

Set the cable machine to chest height

 

  • Begin with a light weight, until you can get the right form
  • Grab the cable machine handle with both hands and step out from the machine, just enough to feel the tension of the weight pulling you forward
  • With good posture and a stable base, begin by inhaling through the belly
  • Exhale and twist outwards
  • As you twist outwards make sure that your feet are pivoting towards the twisting side. You want your whole body to be working together!

 

Click to see video demo here: 

2. Swiss Ball Sit Up (with med ball) – Ok, so this is technically a sit up, but since it’s not off the floor, rather off a Swiss Ball, it allows for a much greater range of motion. The beauty of a Swiss Ball is that you can use a greater percentage of your core muscles and prevent pelvic dysfunction.

 

Key Pointers:

  • Get a Swiss ball that is the correct size for you and firm. *proper sizing is available at the end of this post.
  • The med ball is an option, but if you are using it, make sure that it is a weight that is challenging, but also allows you to perform the exercise with good form.
  • Holding the med ball at your chest, inhale as you allow yourself to roll your body over the ball, exhale and lift yourself up to sitting and reaching your arms up.

 

Click to see video demo here: 

– This is definitely one of my favourites exercises! It translates well functionally and get’s your heart rate going in no time.

3. Cable Woodchops – This is definitely one of my favourites exercises.  It translates well functionally and get’s your heart rate going in no time.

 

Key Pointers:

  • Begin standing sideways to the cable machine.
  • The cable should be set at the highest setting.
  • Grab the cable attachment with arms fully extended by not locked.
  • Step out so that you feel the tension of the weight.
  • Inhale from the belly. And as you exhale chop downwards towards your outside foot.
  • Make sure that as you chop, you do not round your back. Twist from the obliques, and use those legs.
  • Watch the video and note that you have to move your whole body together, allowing the inside foot to pivot as you chop

 

 

Click to see video demo here:

 

4. Swiss Ball rollout –  Think Ab Roller, but safer and doable for most people. This exercise is great at targeting the rectus abdominis, the muscles that give you the visible 6 pack look.

 

Key Pointers:

  • Begin with the right sixe of Swiss Ball (see sizes below).
  • If doing this exercise on your knees, use a yoga matt for cushioning
  • Begin by placing your forearms on the Swiss Ball.
  • Inhale from the belly. Exhale and roll yourself forward, until you feel the tension in your abs, but not in your low back.

 

Click to see video demo here: 

Remember that breathing and good form are key when doing any exercise!

 

*Swiss Ball Sizing:

 

If your height is less than 5’2” you will need a 45cm ball
If your height is 5’2” to 5’8″ you will need a 55cm ball
If your height is 5’9″ to 6’3″ you will need a 65cm ball
If your height is 6’4″ to 6’9″ you will need a 75cm ball