Photography by Paul Buceta
Demonstrated by Brooke Stacey Parker

Here’s the scenario: you have the best intentions of ending your workout with some solid core work. But by the time you get to the mat, you’re so over it. You go through the motions of some half-assed crunches, a couple of sit-ups, and a mediocre plank while you scroll through Instagram. Sound about right? Sure it does. Because let’s face it, abs exercises are straight-up Boringsville, population: you.

But while we’re all guilty of phoning in core workouts now and then, it’s also a well-known fact that a strong midsection is the foundation of a strong body. It helps you stand up straighter, squat heavier, even run faster. (And it doesn’t look too shabby in a crop top either.) So what’s the solution? Make abs training something you actually want to do, not just the snoozefest at the end of your workout. Time to give your old standard crunches and planks the heave-ho and bring in some fresh blood that not only targets your abs, but also challenges your whole body.

These seven unique moves will wake up every square inch of your abdominals, especially your transverse abdominus and obliques, while working your back, butt, and even your shoulders. Perform 12-15 reps of each exercise (on both sides for the unilateral ones), then if you have time, go back to the top and repeat for a bonus round. Try it 1-2 times per week for a noticeably stronger core. For more of a challenge, increase the rep range.

Side Crunch


Begin in a side plank on your left forearm with your right leg raised and your right arm extended over your head (A). Bend your knee and bring it up towards your hip. At the same time, bend your elbow and bring it down to meet your knee (B). Extend both your leg and arm to the starting position, and repeat for all reps. Repeat on the other side.


Holding a medicine ball in both hands, sit on the ground with legs straight and raised off the floor. Raise the ball above your head (A). Crunch up, raising your legs while bringing the ball down to one side of your hips (B). Raise back up the starting position, then repeat on the opposite side. Continue alternating sides for all reps.


Get into plank position on your forearms (A). Reach one arm underneath your torso (B), then rotate into a side plank as you extend it toward the ceiling (C). Rotate back to regular plank, then repeat on the other side. Continue alternating for all reps.

Knee plate bend


Holding a weight plate in both hands, kneel on one knee with your other foot flat on the ground in front of you, leg bent 90° (A). Raise the plate straight above your head and gently bend to one side, leaning away from your bottom leg (B). Return to center and repeat. Complete all reps on this side, then switch legs and repeat on the other side.

Bird Dog


Begin in standard plank position on your forearms. Raise your left arm and right leg, extending them straight out (A). Either hold for 45 seconds, or lower and repeat for all reps. Repeat on the other side.


Holding a light dumbbell in one hand, begin in a split stance with one foot in front of the other. To begin the movement, reach the dumbbell straight up over your head and lean back slightly so you are fully extended (A), then bring the weight forward, bending your arm and bringing your knee and elbow together in front of you (B). Complete all reps on this side, then switch and repeat.


Holding a light dumbbell in your right hand, stand with your right foot behind the left. Place your left hand on your hip for balance. To perform the movement, raise the dumbbell straight up overhead and lean slightly to the left so you are fully extended (A), then bring the weight down towards your side, bringing your knee up to meet your elbow (B). Complete all reps on this side, then switch and repeat.

Did you like this workout? Click here for more core exercises!

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