Alternatives to Crunches – What Exercises to Do Instead of Crunches?

Best Alternatives to Crunches
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Although crunches are one of the most popular ab exercises, they definitely aren’t one of the best. In fact, I don’t think anyone should be doing crunches! Choosing the alternatives to crunches I have listed in this article will protect your spine and help you get stronger and more defined core muscles!

Avoiding crunches is smart because doing them can easily cause back and spine injuries.

According to a study published in the Strength and Conditioning Journal,

“The abdominal crunch is a well-known exercise performed by general and athletic populations for the purported benefits of improving fitness attributes, sport performance, and core muscle function. Despite the benefits, participation may increase one’s risk for low back pain.”

Fortunately, there are many alternatives to crunches that you can choose instead, and they will help improve your body in a variety of ways!

What Are the Best Exercises to Do Instead of Crunches?

Here are the best alternatives to crunches, which can help you get a stronger and healthier core!

See Also: Best Kettlebell Exercises for Abs

1.) Forearm Plank

In my opinion, the forearm plank is the best alternative to crunches.

Unlike sit-ups and crunches, the forearm plank activates both your anterior and posterior chain of muscles. By doing the forearm plank instead of crunches, you will strengthen the entirety of your core muscles!

The forearm plank also increases your full body strength, which can substantially help you in other exercises and regular day-to-day activities.

There are also a few different variations of forearm planks you can try as well!

For your obliques, one of the best crunches alternatives is the forearm side plank. Here is an intense forearm side plank variation:

2.) Mountain Climbers

what are better alternatives to crunches

The mountain climber is my second favorite alternative to crunches and it is another excellent exercise that strengthens a variety of parts of your body.

The mountain climber exercise is a combination of a cardio exercise and strength-building exercise that will help you get a strong core. Mountain climbers are one of the best alternatives to crunches because they strengthen your entire core, similar to the forearm plank, and they strengthen your back instead of causing chronic back pain as crunches do.

For a more significant challenge, you can try doing TRX Mountain Climbers, or other TRX Mountain Climber variations like in this video:

3.) Glute Bridges

Not only do glute bridges help you sculpt your posterior chain, but they are also an excellent exercise to do instead of crunches for developing a flat stomach and a strong core. The main benefits of doing glute bridges is that they build back strength and improve your posture.

Glute bridges are an excellent crunches alternative because they strengthen your core muscles and promote back health, instead of causing back injuries. Glute bridges will not help you get a six-pack like mountain climbers or the forearm plank will, but they will help you get a strong and healthy core!

There are also many challenging glute bridge variations, such as the physioball glute bridge or the single-leg glute bridge. Here is an example of the single leg glute bridge:

4.) Push-ups

alternatives for crunches

Push-ups are undoubtedly going to increase your core strength, and they are a great exercise to do instead of crunches. Although they are a simple bodyweight exercise, they are also one of the best core exercises for getting a six-pack and a strong core!

Push-ups strengthen the entirety of your core muscles, and they will also help you get six pack abs by making it easier for you to reduce your body fat percentage.

5.) Pull-ups

Not only are pull-ups an incredible exercise for your upper back muscles, but they are also one of the best exercises to do instead of crunches.

Even if you can only do one pull-up at a time, beginning to master this exercise is one of the simplest ways to get a flat stomach and a strong core!

Pull-ups are also one of the best alternatives to crunches at home because it is relatively easy to add a pullup bar in your house.

Here is a great pullup bar you could buy for your house:

Pull Up Bar for Doorway, Multifunctional Doorframe Chin Up Bar with Ab Roller Wheel Upper Body Workout Bar, Door Pullup Bar- No Screw Indoor Home Fitness Strength Training Pullup Bar
  • 【 Upgraded Roller Design ! !】:The Upgraded Pull up bar made of four detachable wheels, The...
  • 【Home Pull Up Bar】:The door frame pull up bar coated with non-slip EVA foam, It's Non-Slip and...
  • 【Door Frame Pullup Bar】: It is easy to assemble and fits standard doorways without damaging the...
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Instead of wasting your time with crunches which only help the ab muscles on the front of your body, you can spend time mastering pull-ups and get a truly aesthetic body!

6.) Battle Rope Exercises

If you are looking for a dynamic alternative to crunches that will help you get an awesome core, battle rope exercises are a great exercise for you!

Battle rope exercises strengthen your entire core as well as your shoulders, arms, lower body, and more. They are also one of the best alternative exercises to crunches because they burn a ton of calories in a short amount of time, which will help you reduce your body fat percentage.

In my opinion, the best battle rope workout is the Tabata Interval Protocol. The Tabata Interval Protocol involves 8 rounds of 20-seconds of maximum effort repetition, followed by 10-seconds of rest.

Battle ropes are another alternative exercise to crunches you can do at home because you could buy an affordable battle rope and set it up in your garage, basement, or wherever else you have space. Here is a great example:

Amazon Basics 1.5 Inch Heavy Exercise Training Workout Battle Rope - 344 x 1.5 Inch, Black
  • 1.5-inch exercise rope for strength training—works hands, arms, shoulders, back, abs, core, and...
  • 3-strand-thick design made of durable polyester blend; high tensile strength prevents breaking,...
  • Can be used for undulation, pulling, or climbing exercises, alone or as part of a team
  • Rolls up for take-anywhere portability and compact storage
  • Measures 344*1.5 inch long

7.) Goblet Squats

Goblet squats are one of the best lower body exercises and they are also one of the best alternatives to crunches!

Goblet squats are a great exercise to do instead of crunches because holding a heavyweight in a “goblet” position will strengthen your core and your upper back muscles.

If you want to challenge yourself, even more, you can try doing goblet squats on a BOSU Ball, like in this video:

Goblet squats are also great for building leg muscle mass, so they will help you reduce your body fat percentage as well to get a defined six pack.

8.) Lunges

There are many different types of lunge variations, and all of them are excellent alternatives to crunches. However, most people should start with the traditional forward or reverse lunge.

Lunges are an excellent exercise to do instead of crunches because they stimulate the muscles throughout your entire lower body, and they work your oblique muscles more than other lower body or core exercises.

For women who are trying to get a bikini body fast, lunges are a perfect exercise because they are great for your sculpting your legs and core!

Check out this video to view a few of the more challenging reverse lunge variations!

9.) Deadlifts

The deadlift is one of the overall best exercises and it certainly is one of the best exercises to do instead of crunches.

There are many deadlift variations, including:

  • Conventional Deadlift
  • Trap-Bar Deadlift
  • Snatch Grip Deadlift
  • Sumo Deadlift
  • Dumbbell Deadlift

All of these types of deadlifts are great alternatives to crunches because they strengthen all of your core muscles, and promote muscle growth throughout your body.

If you want to get a well-defined six pack, you should definitely be doing deadlifts instead of crunches!

10.) Squat and Press

The last exercise on my list of crunches alternatives is the squat and press, which is a great exercise for building muscle mass, improving your conditioning, and getting six-pack abs.

The squat and press combines two different exercises (the squat and the overhead press), so it strengthens your core muscles and it increases your metabolism dramatically.

Here is a video demonstration for you:

Concluding Thoughts – Alternatives for Crunches

Whether you are trying to get six pack abs or a stronger core, there are a lot of alternatives for crunches that are more effective and better for your body. Personally, I have not done crunches at all in years.

Along with the exercises listed above, I also suggest that you use the best supplement for muscle growth for better results.

If you choose to use these alternatives to crunches instead of crunches, I am confident you will notice the results are much better!

Read Next: Learn How to Get Six Pack Abs Fast Naturally at Home


Adam Kemp
Hello! My name is Adam Kemp. I am a professional basketball player and an ISSA Certified Personal Trainer. In 2014 I graduated from Marist College with a B.A. in Communications, and in 2022 I completed my Master's of Science in Nutrition Education at American University. Additionally, for the last eight years, I have played professional basketball in Europe. I am also an ISSA Certified Personal Trainer. The health and fitness tips you can find throughout the articles I have written include information I have learned throughout my basketball career, academic studies, and my own personal research. If you would like to learn more about my life, please take a moment to follow me on Instagram and Twitter.

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