The 19 Best Exercises to Tone Your Abs (and None of Them Are Crunches)

Image of woman doing standing ab workout.TipHero

On a scale of 1-10, how over crunches are you? It may be most people’s go-to way to tone their abs, but it’s a pretty lackluster exercise. Plus, it’s actually not even the best way to get that rocking six-pack.

Okay, so even if you’re not looking to get that shredded look, you probably, like most of us, still want to tighten things up in your midriff area. But there are lots of exercises way more effective than the old-fashioned crunch.

Try one of these crunch-free ab exercises—and get ready to feel sore (and toned). No boredom here!

Ab exercises with no equipment needed

Image of woman doing various ab workouts.TipHero
  1. Tabletop to reverse pike: 10-15 reps

    Sit with your legs out in front of you, palms on the ground with your fingers towards your toes.

    Lift your hips off the ground so you’re in a tabletop position, looking up at the ceiling.

    Hold for a moment, then exhale and lower your hips down until they’re hovering the ground.

  2. Elbow moving plank: 3-5 reps

    Get down sunny-side down on the ground, resting on your forearms and knees.

    Push yourself off the ground by lifting your knees so you’re in a plank position.

    Hold for 15-20 seconds and release.

  3. Dead bug: 5-10 reps

    Lie down on your back with your knees up and your palms resting on them.

    As you extend your right leg straight out, extend your right arm back, keeping your left palm and knee in its original position.

    Repeat on left side.

  4. Pilates corkscrew: 10 reps on each side

    Lie down on your back and reach your legs straight up to the ceiling.

    Move your legs to the right, as your hips lift up off the floor.

    Move your legs back to the center position with your abs engaged.

    Move your legs to the right as you did with your left earlier.

  5. Single-leg forward reach: 10 reps on each side

    Stand up straight, putting all your weight on your left foot.

    As you reach forward, lift your right leg off the ground in the opposite direction behind you.

    Lower your right leg, and then switch sides.

  6. Scissor abs: 20-30 reps

    Lie down on your back with your arms parallel by your sides, palms pressing into the floor.

    Lift both legs to the ceiling and let only one come down slowly, pressing your back into the ground.

    Repeat on other leg.

  7. Knee plank extensions: 15 reps on each side

    Get on the ground on all fours.

    Reach your right hand out in front of you as you extend your left leg out behind you.

    Repeat on next side (and try not to lose balance, but it’s okay if you do!).

  8. Side elbow plank twist: 10 reps on each side

    Get into a side plank position (feet stacked on top of each other, one forearm on the ground, body lifted off the ground).

    Place your top arm behind your head and rotate down toward your bellybutton.

    Rotate back up and complete 10 reps before switching sides.

  9. Ab exercises with dumbbells

    Note: Use whatever weight you’re comfortable completing the reps with, but that you’re struggling slightly at the end.

  10. Seated Russian twist: 15-20 reps

    Sit on the ground facing forward with your knees bent slightly, dumbbell in hand.

    Lean back and keep your back straight as you twist from side to side with the dumbbell.

  11. Leaning camel: 15-20 reps

    Kneel on both knees on the ground while holding a dumbbell close to your chest.

    Use your quads and torso to lean back, while keeping your knees on the ground, and dumbbell at chest level.

    Return to the starting position and repeat.

  12. Rotating plank: 10-15 reps

    Get into a plank position with a dumbbell in each hand.

    Lift one hand to the ceiling on the right side holding the weight, as your turn your head towards the weight.

    Twist back down and repeat on left side.

  13. Overhead dumbbell side bend: 10-15 reps on each side

    Stand up straight holding a dumbbell above your head using both hands.

    Lean slightly to the left, keeping the dumbbell over your head.

    Lean back to the center, and then to the right side in the same manner.

  14. Standing twist row: 5-10 reps on each side

    Stand up straight with a weight in your right hand.

    Squat down and pull your elbow (of the hand with the weight) back as you twist to the right, squeezing your shoulder blade and engaging your core.

    Hold for 20-30 seconds, and then switch sides.

  15. Ab exercises with an exercise ball

  16. Ball pass: 10-15 reps

    Lie on your back with your feet slightly elevated, holding an exercise ball.

    As you lift up slightly, transfer the exercise ball to the lower part of your feet and lower back down, keeping your legs slightly off the ground.

    Lift up again and transfer the ball back to your hands—and repeat.

  17. Standing ab roll out: 10-15 reps

    Stand up straight with your legs wide, ball in front of you, palms on top of it.

    Lean your body forward so the ball rolls down to your elbows.

    Engage your core to get back up to the starting position, and repeat.

  18. Ball pike to plank: 10-15 reps

    With your shins on the exercise ball, carefully place your palms on the ground, in a plank position. Make sure your body’s in a straight line.

    Use your core strength to lift your bum towards the sky, folding your body in half.

    As your toes move to the top of the ball, your head will drop between your arms.

    Lower yourself back down into the original start position.

  19. Ab exercises with a medicine ball

  20. Overhead circles: 10-15 on each side

    Stand up straight with a medicine ball (probably 5-8 pounds) overhead.

    Circle the ball to the right while keeping stable.

    Repeat on the left side.

  21. Twisting wood chop: 10-15 reps on each side

    Stand up straight with a medicine ball (probably 5-8 pounds) overhead towards your left shoulder.

    Rotate diagonally toward you right knee in a “chopping motion.”

    Go back up to the starting position and repeat. Do the same thing on your other side.

  22. Medicine ball alphabet: 26 reps (the alphabet, duh!)

    Stand up straight with a medicine ball (5-15 pounds) at chest level.

    Write the alphabet in cursive while keeping your abs tight.

So what do you think—are you done with crunches forever? Which ab exercise are you going to try first?