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May 10, 2018
110 Bodyweight Exercises
110 Bodyweight Exercises
September 4, 2018

28 Alternatives to Sit Ups and Crunches

Alternatives to Sit Ups and Crunches

Looking for alternatives to sit ups and crunches? Look no further! I am going to give you 28 alternatives to sit ups and crunches. Sit ups and crunches are two of the most common exercises when it comes to abdominal training.  Everybody knows how to do them.  We all did them in PE class while we were growing up.  But they are not the most effective exercises for building a strong core.

Whats Wrong with Sit Ups and Crunches?

Sit ups and crunches only work the rectus abdominis muscle and don’t effectively work the obliques and transversus abdominus.  Sit ups and crunches can place stress on the spine, neck and lower back.  With so many of us spending a large amount of time sitting or working on a computer we don’t need to spend any more time in a hunched crunched position. We can do better for our clients as trainers and instructors.  We can train our core without endlessly doing sit ups and crunches.  Here are a few of my favorite alternatives.

28 Alternatives to Sit Ups and Crunches!

I had two main goals when coming up with this list of sit up alternatives.

  1. I wanted body weight exercises that did not require any equipment.
  2. I wanted the exercises to be group exercise class friendly. (Don’t take long to set up or take up too much space).

1. L-Sit

Seated with the legs extended and feet flexed, place the hands on the floor and slightly round the torso. Then, lift the hips off the ground, hold for five seconds and release. Repeat!

2. Rotational Push-Up

Starting push-up position, rotate the body to the right and extend the right hand overhead, forming a T with the arms and torso. Return to the starting position, do a normal push-up, then rotate to the left.

3. Flutter Kick

Start lying on your back with arms at your sides and palms facing down. With legs extended, lift the heels off the floor (about six inches). Make quick, small up-and-down pulses with the legs, while keeping the core engaged.

4. Dynamic Prone Plank

Starting in a standard plank position, raise the hips as high as they can go, then lower them back down. Continue this movement for as long as possible. Make sure the back stays straight and the hips don’t droop.

5. Side Plank

Roll to the side and come up on one foot and elbow. Make sure the hips are lifted and the core is engaged.

6. Russian Twist

Sit on the floor with knees bent and feet together, lifted a few inches off the floor. With the back at a 45-degree angle from the ground, move the arms from one side to another in a twisting motion. Here, slow and steady wins the race: The slower the twist, the deeper the burn.

7. Bicycle

Lie down with knees bent and hands behind the head. With the knees in toward the chest, bring the right elbow towards the left knee as the right leg straightens. Continue alternating sides (like you’re pedaling!).

8. Segmental Rotation

Lying on your back with your knees bent and core tight, let the knees fall gradually to the left (feeling a good stretch). Hold for five seconds, return to center, and repeat on the right side.

9. Shoulder Bridge

Lie on your back with the knees bent and feet hip-width apart. Place arms at your side and lift up the spine and hips. Only the head, feet, arms, and shoulders should be on the ground. Then lift one leg upwards, keeping the core tight. Slowly bring the leg back down, then lift back up. Try to do 10 reps per leg, then bring the knee in place and spine back on the floor.

10. Single Leg Abdominal Press

Lie on your back with the knees bent and feet on the floor. Tighten the abs and raise the right leg, with the knee and hip bent at a 90-degree angle. Push the right hand on top of the lifted knee, using the core to create pressure between the hand and knee. Hold for five counts, and then lower back down to repeat with the left hand and knee.

11. Double Leg Abdominal Press

Lie on your back with the knees bent and feet on the floor. Tighten the abs and raise both legs, with the knees and hips bent at a 90-degree angle. Push the hands on top of the lifted knees, using the core to create pressure between the hands and knees. Hold for five counts, and then lower back down to repeat.

12. Leg Lifts

Lie face up on the floor, and raise your upper legs until they’re perpendicular to the floor. Bend your knees slightly. Without changing the arch in your lower back or the angle of your knees, brace your core and try to take 3 to 5 seconds to lower your feet as close to the floor as you can. One trick: Press your lower back toward the floor as you perform the movement. Once your feet touch the floor, raise them back to the starting position and repeat.

13. Vertical Leg Crunch


Lie flat on the floor with lower back pressed to the ground. Place hands behind head. Extend legs straight up, crossed at the ankles with a slight bend in the knee. Contract abdominal muscles by lifting torso toward knees. Make sure to keep chin off your chest with each contraction. Exhale as you contract upward; inhale as you return to the starting position.

14. V-Ups

Lie faceup with legs and arms extended. Keeping knees and elbows locked, simultaneously raise upper body and lower body while trying to touch fingers to toes.

15. Reverse Crunch


Lie flat on the floor with lower back pressed to the ground. Place hands behind head or extend out alongside body. Crossing legs at ankles, lift feet up. Pull lower back off the floor as you contract abs. Reach legs toward the ceiling with each contraction.

16. Lying Side Crunch


Lie on on your side with knees bent at a right angle and twisted to the left. Curl upper body, lifting shoulders off the floor a few inches. Pause at the top of the contraction and slowly lower back down. Switch sides and repeat.

17. Oblique V-Up


Lie on side, arms folded across chest. Keeping legs together, lift them off the floor as you raise top elbow toward hip. Place opposite hand on the floor if you need extra stability.

18. Scissor Crunches


Lie on back with feet together, legs extended, and hands behind head with elbows wide. Raise right foot straight up to the ceiling, keeping left leg extended and left foot a few inches from the floor. Perform a standard crunch, then lower upper body to about an inch from the floor and switch legs.

19. Toe Taps


Lie on back and place hands behind ears. Lift legs to tabletop position (90-degree angle). Press lower back into floor and crunch forward until shoulders are off the floor. With toes pointed down, lower right foot as far as you can without lifting back off the floor. Return to starting position and repeat with left leg.

20. T-Stabalization

Get into push-up position. Shift weight to left hand and rotate body. Keeping feet stacked, raise right arm into the air so that arms and torso form a ‘T.’ Hold.

21. Bird Dog


Balance on hands and knees. Lift right leg and left arm, extending right leg to the rear and reaching forward with left arm. Hold. Repeat with opposite arm and leg.

22. Plank with Alternating Arm and Leg Raise

Get into push-up position. Lift right arm and left leg at the same time without moving torso. Hold. Return to starting position, then repeat, lifting opposite leg and arm.

23. Spiderman Plank

While performing a triceps push-up, bring your knee to the outside of your elbow, and switch sides on the next rep. Don’t drop or pike your hips through the entire move — your body should stay in a straight line from shoulders to ankles.


24. Army Crawl Side Planks

Stay low in a strong forearm plank as you slither your arms and legs forward. Then finish with a side plank to target your obliques.

25. Hollow Hold

Start on your back with your legs extended out in front and your arms overhead. Lift your legs up toward the ceiling as you pull your belly button and lower back flat on the floor. Lower your legs only as far as you can while keeping your lower back pinned down to the ground. Round your upper back and look at your toes. Hold this position.

26. Arch Hold

Lie on your belly with your arms extended out in front and your legs straight behind you. Keep your legs together and your biceps by your ears. Lift your chest and your legs off the ground. Squeeze your inner thighs and butt together as you send your tailbone toward your heels. Hold this position.

27. Cocoon

Lie on your back with legs extended and your heels touching the floor. Straighten your arms above your head with your hands touching the floor. This is the starting position. Simultaneously bend both legs and bring your knees to your chest as you bring your arms down to hug your knees. Now, release your knees and extend your legs and arms again, returning your heels back to the ground.

28. Dead Bug

Lie on your back with your knees bent in the air at 90 degrees and your calves parallel to the floor. Raise both arms up above you so they are pointed toward the ceiling. This is the starting position. Now, straighten your left leg without touching it to the ground. Your back will want to arch, but use your abdominal muscles to keep it pressed firmly into the floor. Return your left leg to the starting position and repeat the movement with your right leg. Return both legs to the starting position.


We have gone over 28 alternatives to sit ups and crunches.  Some of them are pretty hard to do and will take time to master  but your core will love you for the time and effort you put in.

What are some of your favorite alternatives to sit ups and crunches?  Let me know in the comments or hit me up on Instagram or Twitter.

Want to learn about bodyweight training.  Check out our  Guide to Bodyweight Training or check out our list of 110 bodyweight exercises


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