Sit Ups are so 1996, try these 11 core exercises instead.

Going beyond Sit ups and Side Bends



How do you train your core? Do you include exercises like sit ups and planks? Do you use the “ab machines” at  your gym? And how much time do you spend doing a core routine? Ten minutes? Maybe thirty?


In this post I want to go over 11 core exercises that might seem nontraditional for you. But they do have a purpose and I’ll be going over them in detail.


Some of these exercises burn more calories than conventional core exercises. Why? Well that simple answer is that you’re not just going to be laying down on the floor where gravity isn’t challenging you.


In some of these exercises you’ll also be strengthening your shoulders and hips. Improving shoulder and hip stability can make a core exercise more complete and thus more useful, not just for the mirror, but for life and sport as well.


A useful tip to perform the following exercises


Throughout this post you will see me trying to make the point that these movements should be done with a controlled manner. Don’t use bad form or momentum. Don’t try to compensate by using a jerky movement. Try your best to execute the exercises with good form and you’ll reap the benefits.


I’m confident that you will find at least one exercise that you can integrate into your core training routines.



The exercises:







1. Ab Snail

The Ab Snail will target your abs and triceps. You’re going to need some space for this one.

Sit on the ground with your legs extended in front of you and with your hands behind you. Make sure your fingers are pointing outward, away from your body. This will promote better posture.

To start, push yourself up and lift your hips off the ground. Place your hips behind you as far back as you can and then land slowly back to the ground. This is important, you simply don’t want to fall down. You want to control your descend.

When you are lifting yourself up, think of bringing the front of your thighs to the top portion of your abs.

When you do this exercise, you can go for a few reps or you can simply move towards a desired length.



2. Advanced Side Plank

This Advanced Side Plank will target your obliques, hips, inner thigh (of the leg that is on the bench) as well as your rectus abdominis muscle.

To start, stack both legs on top of a bench or stable platform. When you are ready, remove the bottom leg off the bench and leave it in the air.

Then when you feel stable enough, perform a crunch while in your side plank position. Try to connect the top elbow to the bottom knee and pause briefly when you do.

A good pause will remove any unwanted momentum with the exercise and will also provide a good muscular contraction.

You don’t need to do a crazy amount of reps for this one. I think 8-12 reps per side will do the trick.


3. Kick Through & Reach

The Kick Through & Reach exercise has a longer sequence than the previous exercises on this list. You’re going to use your entire body to execute this movement. It’s quite complexed to learn in the beginning, but I’m sure you will nail with a little bit of practice.

This movement will strengthen your midsection but it can also serve as a great tool for hip and ankle mobility. It also provides a nice stretch on the chest and on the muscles on the front of the body.

4. Swiss Ball Rollback To Pike To Shoulder Press

This one is a mouthful to say, I know. There’s actually three movements to the Swiss Ball Rollback To Pike To Shoulder Press. First you have the roll back on the ball. Then you have the pike and lastly the press.

I would suggest to first learn all the individual exercises by themselves and then put them together.

Grab a swiss ball and make sure it has some air. Place both of your legs on the ball.

To make the exerciser easier, use less resistance by placing more of your lower body on the ball. Conversely, to add more resistance, place only your feet on top of the ball.

If the press portion of the movement is too much for you, simply do the rest of the exercise and it will still provide a significant training stimulus.

5. Static Push Up Plank

The Static Push Up Plank is a deceptively difficult position to do. I will target your entire midsection.

To start, get in a push up position. Then lower yourself until you are about an inch or two from the floor. Make sure your head, spine and hips are aligned in a straight line.

Make sure you aren’t excessively bringing your head forward. To fix that, simply look forward, not down.

To make the position more intense, try to think of bringing your hands together without actually moving them. Hold this position for 20-30 seconds.


6. Single Arm Plank Row


The Single Arm Plank Row will target your abs, biceps and back. You’re going to need a bench or another stable platform for this one.

To start, grab a kettlebell or dumbbell and place yourself over the bench. Unlike in a traditional bench row, you’re only going to support your body with one limb, your arm.

The further away your legs are from the bench, the more stability you will need to perform the movement. To make the exercise easier simply bend your knees a bit and separate your feet more.

To really get the most out of this exercise, avoid rotating at your hips and shoulders as you row and perform the rows with a controlled manner. You can go for 10-15 reps per side.

7. Planche Plank

The Planche Plank is an advanced version of a plank. The subtle differences in this version will intensify the exercise considerably.

Get on a plank position and then push yourself away from the ground with straight arms, and gradually shift your body forward. Your shoulders should be in front of your wrists.

You want to be light on your toes and you want to squeeze your butt throughout the hold. Your hips should be in a posterior pelvic tilt position. This should put your torso in a hollow position. Hold this position for about 20-30 seconds.

8. Half Kneeling Windmill

The Half Kneeling Windmill is a fantastic exercise for trunk, shoulder and hip stability. You’re really going to feel this in your obliques.

You can do this with a dumbbell but using a kettlebell allows our shoulder to work on stability. This is due to the placement of the load of the kettlebell, which is outside of our hand.

The half kneeling windmill is inspired from the windmill exercise.

To begin, get in a half kneeling position where you have one foot forward and one leg back. The arm that is carrying the kettlebell should be next to your ear. You don’t want this arm away from your body, you can easily lose control of the kettlebell this way.

As you are looking up at the kettlebell, shift your hip sideways to assist your trunk in flexing laterally.

Place your hands on the ground and pause briefly. Then reverse the movement.

You can do 5-10 controlled reps per side.

9. Kettlebell Sit Up Presses

The Kettlebell Sit Up Press will target your abdominals, hip flexors , chest and shoulders.

As I mention in the video, if you can’t press with good posture at the top position then grab a lighter weight. And if you still can’t perform the movement well, then perhaps this exercise isn’t for you (yet).

Lay on the ground with the kettlebells in front of you, then perform a sit up and press the kettlebells upward as you do. You want your arms straight and next to your ears at the top position of the exercise.

Return back to the ground in a slow and controlled manner.

You can try the exercise with one arm as well. This version will demand more core stability. You can go for 8-10 reps per side.

10. Dumbbell Half Get Up

The Dumbbell Half Get Up is taking a piece from the Turkish Get Up. The Turkish Get Up is a total body exercise that requires strength, stability, mobility, flexibility and even focus.

Check out this post I did for to learn more about the Turkish Get Up: THE TURKISH GET-UP: A BEGINNER’S GUIDE

This exercise will work on overall core stability and strength. You’ll find your heart working hard in this one too.

Just like the previous exercise, you want your eyes fixed on the dumbbell throughout the entire movement. I intentionally used a dumbbell for it’s user friendliness. I understand that some people are not really comfortable with kettlebells.

Lay on the floor with the dumbbell on top of you with one arm. This arm should be straight and the leg on this side should be retracted. The opposite leg should be extended and slightly away from your body. This will provide better stability as you perform a sit up on top of your elbow. Pause briefly.

Then replace your hand with your elbow. Pause briefly and perform a bridge. The extended leg should still remain extended at the top position. You should especially feel this in your obliques in this position.

You can do 5-10 reps per side.

11. Advanced Sit Ups (Partner Required)

If you workout with a partner then you are going to like this one. The focus of this Advance Sit Up is on decelerating the downward portion of the sit up.

If you can, try to use an ab mat to perform the sit ups. It will provide better support for your lower back.

In this set up, you have one partner that will perform the sit ups and the other partner will apply a bit of resistance by gently applying force to his partner’s hands as he returns back to the ground. During the downward portion, the person doing sit ups has to resist force for 3-5 seconds.

It it not necessary to apply a lot of force. You will be surprised how little force is needed to make this exercise more intense. Go for 10 controlled reps.

Download Workout PDF

In this downloadable PDF you’ll have six different core workouts to choose from. I am certain that you will find them challenging and effective.



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