Crunches Suck, So Work Your Abs With These Five (Better) Moves Instead

David Morton
Photo credit: The Stanley Weston Archive - Getty Images

From Esquire

How often do you pick up an object and put it down 10 times in a row in real life? How often do you lie on the floor and bring your upper body to your knees? Exactly. If you want real core strength (the kind that makes sense in the real world, not just your Instagram selfies) then you need to move around with weights in your hands.

This functional workout, from PT Andrew Tracey, will craft a core that goes as well as it shows. Clear a length of space in the gym for two rounds of our kettlebell and dumbbell duo and steel yourself against injury in day-to-day tasks. Your legs, shoulders and lungs will feel it, too – this is no cake walk, after all. Deep breaths, now.

1) Overhead Kettlebell

Press 5 reps

Before taking your kettlebells on the move, fire up your shoulders with five presses. With the weights in front of your shoulders (A), brace your core as you press them both above your head, locking your arms out at the top (B). Feel free to bend your knees slightly to help generate more power.

2) Overhead Kettlebell Walk


After the fifth press, leave the kettlebells high above your head (A). Take a few deep breaths before starting your walk. As you move, try to avoid flaring your ribcage; keep your core braced and your biceps almost touching your ears (B). The strength and stability you will build across your whole shoulder here is essential for staying free of injury, too.

3) Kettlebell Front Squat

10 reps

When you’ve completed your 20m overhead walk, don’t drop your kettlebells just yet. Perform ten squats by bringing the bells back down in front of your shoulders (A). From here, drop into a front squat, until your thighs are parallel with the ground (B), before driving back up. By this point you’ll be tiring, but don’t relax. Keeping your core tight throughout is crucial.

4) Dumbbell Bear Crawl


Grab your dumbbells. Set up on all fours, gripping the dumbbells below your shoulders. Lift one dumbbell and reach forward with that arm, advancing with your back leg on the opposite side (A). Repeat on your other side (B). You’ll finish in the original position – just, er, further forward.

5) Dumbbell Press-Up

15 reps

After the crawl, keep the dumbbells under your shoulders and your body straight (A). Drop your chest to the dumbbells (B) and explode up. If 15 of these in a row is too hard, split into three lots of five, resting for five to 10 seconds in between. Walk back to the kettlebells to start round two.

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