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Burnout on Crunches? Try These Ab Workouts Instead

October 12, 2020

Crunch burnout is a real thing. You know, when you kinda feel like you’re losing your mind because you’ve been doing crunches for what seems like forever? Yeah, you get it.

The good news is that you’re in luck. While crunches might be the quintessential ab workout, they’re not the only one. So, if you feel like you never want to hear the word crunch again, we’ve rounded up a few no crunch ab exercises that will get the job done – and cure you of that lingering crunch hangover.


Why It’s Time to Give Those Crunches a Break

Have you ever done a search on “how to get abs”? Please tell us we’re not alone, here. If you have, you’ve probably been bombarded by all kinds of Pinterest infographics about crunches.


We even dare to say that they aren’t even the best ab workout. For starters, they don’t work your entire core in their standard form. They don’t even start to activate any of the other primary muscle groups. Crunches can also be painful if you deal with chronic back or neck pain. 

But you don’t need any more motivation to leave the crunches in the dust, so let’s break down a few no crunch ab exercises that will have you saying “crunch who?” in no time.


Flutter Kicks

Get ready to set that core on fire, fam. These flutter kicks may look simple, but there’s beauty (and pain) in that simplicity.

Flutter-Kicks-Resistance-Band No crunch ab exercises

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Start by lying on your back. Raise your legs about 8 – 10 inches off the ground and pretend like you’re kicking underwater in a swimming pool. This motion doesn’t have to be fast – or intense. In fact, completing the flutter slower can add to the burn as your core and your leg muscles work to keep your legs afloat.

For added intensity, you can also add the handled resistance bands to make those flutters just a little bit more tense. Loop one end on one of your feet and pull to create tension. This should kick the muscle work up a few notches, if that’s the kinda thing you’re after. Remember to keep your core engaged and your movements tight to get the most of out of this no crunch ab exercise.


Side Plank Leg Raises

Ah, yes, the side plank leg raise. While the name might be a bit of a mouthful, it won’t take you long to get the gist of this move – and understand why it’s infinitely more productive than a crunch. This one doesn’t just work your core, it also targets your toosh, your arms and your shoulders. Talk about a power move!

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Start in a side plank position by placing your forearm on the ground and twisting your body to the side. Then, lift your hips and straighten your body into a line. Remember to keep your core engaged to create a straight line from your head to your toes. Once you’re in the elevated position, lift your top leg up 

Wanna amp it up a bit? Don’t let that top leg fall back down to the ground. You can also slowly let your leg fall back down to create some natural resistance (i.e. without equipment). 



A V-up is kinda like a crunch – except better because it targets your upper and lower core at the same time. You could be doing a boring, old crunch – and getting half the results for the same amount of effort. Or, maybe switch it up and go with a few sets of v-ups to really work that core.

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Start by laying on your back on the floor. Extend your hands all the way above your head and leave your legs flat on the ground. Exhale as you bring your arms and legs up into a V position. Return back to your original lying position, rinse, and repeat. 

Want to add a HIIT element to this one? Do alternating V-ups by raising alternating arms and legs to create a higher-frequency sequence. This is a great way to shred that core and get your heart rate thumpin’.


Leg Raises

Leg raises are one of the no crunch ab exercises that are a close relative of the V-up, but that doesn’t mean you should underestimate them. These are a great alternative to crunches (and to V-ups) if you deal with chronic neck or back pain.

No crunch ab exercises

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Start by lying down with your back flat on the floor. Slowly lift both legs up until you create a 90° angle. Then, slowly return your legs back down to the floor. If you find this uncomfortable, you can place your hands under the small of your back for extra support. 

Want to challenge yourself? Add some weight. Ankle weights will do the job, but if you need to improvise, you can always squeeze a water bottle or pillow between your legs as you do the leg raises. This will not only add to the weight that you have to lift, it also engages the outside of your glutes and hamstrings.


Half-Seated Leg Circle

Woo boy, this one’s a real burner. Again, we have to remind you that just because an exercise is simple, doesn’t mean it’s not challenging. These half-seated leg circles do more than just engage your core – you’ll feel it in your glutes and hamstrings, too.

No crunch ab exercises

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Start by sitting on the ground. Then, raise your legs into the air slightly – kinda like you’re getting ready to do a Russian twist. Once you’ve got your legs in a tabletop position, slowly rotate them in circles, alternating clockwise and counterclockwise. It’s important that you keep the rotations balanced with this one so that you’re not overworking one side of your core.

Feeling too easy? Try incorporating a full extension at the end of your rotation then drawing your legs back into a tabletop position. Sounds easy, right? Just wait. The longer you keep your legs suspended, the more it’ll start to burn – in the very best way, of course.



Ab workouts can be quite dull if you’re only sticking to crunches. But, when you’ve had enough of those vanilla moves, kick your workouts up a notch with these no crunch ab exercises instead.


Ryan H


Ryan Hoang is a former fitness trainer, fashion entrepreneur, and creative force behind the modern activewear brand Centric. As a fitness enthusiast and apparel industry professional, he always strives to design and create high performance athletic apparel without compromising fashion for function. When he is not busy working on Centric, you will find him at the gym sweating it out or in the kitchen trying out new recipes.