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The no-crunch workout that will sculpt your core

There are a lot of things in your wellness routine that are super critical. Drinking a lot of water, for starters. Taking time to work on your mobility, stretches included. And of course: Your core. No matter what workout you have on deck, whether you’re a runner or someone that’s more into hitting the squat rack, a strong core is the foundation for proper movement patterns and total-body strength.

The core is a group of muscles that help us resist motions that might put us in danger, says Dr. Adeeb Khalfe, physical therapist, CSCS in Houston, Texas. The stronger and more stable your core is, the safer your low back, shoulders, and hips will feel.

Train at home with Technogym Master Trainers: see the full Upper Body Focus video workout.

A great core workout with dumbbells or kettlebells

A huge misconception? In order to have a strong core, you’ve got to do a ton of crunches. Quite the contrary, says Dr. Alex Tauberg DC, CSCS. “Crunches are an OK exercise, but by no means are they the best core exercise, he says, adding that the standard crunch is only going to really work the rectus abdominis muscle in the midsection of your body. You want something that’s going to engage the entire thing, including the obliques and rectus and transverse abdominis.

Ready to get stronger, ASAP? Here, Khalfe offers up a no-crunch core workout. The only thing you need? A set of medium weight dumbbells and a kettlebell. Do three sets, resting 1 minute between each.

Renegade Row with a Push-Up

Start in a high plank position with your hands on two dumbbells, shoulders over wrists. Lower down into a push-up, keeping elbows close to the body. Press back to start. Then, engaging your core, row the right hand up toward the torso with control. Slowly lower the hand back to the ground; repeat with the left hand. Return to start for one rep.

Side Plank with Hip Abduction

Lie down and roll to your right side. Stack your right elbow under your right shoulder and stack your heels, hips, shoulders in one straight line and press your grounded elbow into the ground to lift your hips up. On the inhale, lift your left leg up four inches, hold for 30 seconds. Lower back to start. Repeat on opposite side.

Reps: 10

Overhead lunge

Start standing with your feet together, dumbbells or kettlebells racked at shoulder height, palms facing in. Engage the core, press dumbbells overhead. Take a large step forward with your right foot, bending both knees to 90 degrees as you descend forward, and keeping the weights above your head. Keeping your balance, press through the right heel to return to start. Repeat on the left side.

  • Reps: 14 alternating

Bear Plank with Shoulder Tap

Start in a tabletop position. Engage your core and lift your knees to hover one inch above the ground. Keeping your hips level, tap your right hand to your left shoulder. Slowly lower back to start. Repeat on the opposite side for one rep. Continue, alternating sides.

  • Reps:14 alternating

Kettlebell Swing

With the kettlebell on the floor in front of you and legs in a wide stance, grab the bell by the handle with both hands. Hinge at the hips, bringing the kettlebell back and between your legs. Keeping your core engaged, forcefully propel the kettlebell forward by thrusting your hips forward and contracting your glutes. The kettlebell should swing to chest height before you let gravity take over, bringing it back between your legs for one rep. Proceed onto the next rep in one continuous motion.

Reps: 10

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