How to get abs without doing traditional ab exercises

Let it be known: the crunch is over. Try these exercises for abs instead. Getty Images

Let it be known: crunches are not the secret to getting hard abs.

Personal trainer and author Holly Perkins ofΒ The 12-Week Head-to-Toe Transformation,Β posted a video on Instagram in late August showing viewers how she got a six-pack, Women’s Health notes.

“Thanks to deadlifts and squats I rarely do focused ab work. But when I do… any variation of a plank is πŸ‘πŸ» in my experience,” she wrote on the social media site.

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Thanks to Deadlifts and Squats I rarely do focused Ab work. But when I do… β€’ ☝🏻Any variation of a Plank is πŸ‘πŸ»in my experience. Love this one for so many reasons. Great arm and shoulder work, helps in my handstand practice, activates deep Core muscles, improves balance. ✌🏻I do like some Lateral Flexion as long as it's controlled and deliberate. For this one, make sure your bottom elbow is directly under your shoulder, and keep your hips in alignment with shoulders and ankles. β€’ These are pretty advanced moves, so be sure to start conservatively. I haven't done a true Ab workout in probably a year – no joke πŸ™‹πŸΌ- and this one made me sore for days. Try them out and lemme hear ya 😝 β–ƒβ–ƒβ–ƒβ–ƒβ–ƒβ–ƒβ–ƒβ–ƒβ–ƒβ–ƒβ–ƒβ–ƒβ–ƒβ–ƒβ–ƒβ–ƒβ–ƒβ–ƒβ–ƒβ–ƒβ–ƒβ–ƒβ–ƒβ–ƒ #fitness #fitspo #fitfam #strength #gym #workout #exercise #fitnessaddict #fit #fitspiration #fitnessmotivation #girlsthatlift #bodybuilding #fitgirls #healthy #instafit #GirlsWithMuscles #Women #squat #deadlift

A post shared by Holly Perkins, BS CSCS (@hollyperkins) on

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Perkins also talks about the importance of the plank when it comes to working on the core. “Great arm and shoulder work, helps in my handstand practice, activates deep core muscles [and] improves balance,” she continued.

And although Perkins’ exercise is quite advanced, it does start the conversation on other ways to achieve that six-pack.

READ MORE: Can you target β€˜problem areas’ with your workout?

Deadlifts and squats

Amanda Thebe of Fit & ChipsΒ of Toronto, says these two exercises are assumed to be lower body exercises, but the truth is, they are so much more than that.

“To correctly perform these exercises, it is necessary to create tension throughout the body and build strength throughout the whole core, front and back. Both of these exercises are full body movements and a great way for building a good strong core,” she tells Global News.

Alistair Hopper of Flex FitnessΒ in Winnipeg, adds deadlifts and squats also require you to have good core strength and stability, to begin with. “You must engage your core muscles throughout the exercise. This will build strength in your core, I wouldn’t say squats and deadlifts are an ab exercise, but the core does help a lot to keep good technique and be safe.”

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Exercises for flat abs

Like Perkins, Hopper also recommends a variation of a static plank. “This exercise can be made harder or easier in many ways so it’s a very versatile core exercise for a wide range of fitness levels. I also like this McGill crunch that is great for people with lower back issues.”

The McGill crunch, by Canadian professor Stuart McGill, should replace traditional crunches, Maclean’sΒ (and most experts) note.

READ MORE: 8 exercises personal trainers do on the daily

Thebe says cable or dumbbell woodchops are also challenging for the body to build a strong core, and she also recommends the sandbag lateral bag drag.

“This challenging exercise is becoming more commonplace in gyms throughout the nation. This is an exercise that requires a high level of stability and strength throughout the core to maintain proper alignment of smooth movement of the bag.”

Common mistakes when it comes to abs

Thebe continues when it comes to ab exercises, she still sees people doing crunches at the gym. “There is strong evidence to show that ab crunches are detrimental to lower back health and can, in fact, cause significant injury. So the first rule about ab crunches is, don’t do ab crunches,” she says.

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She adds people don’t understand how to work ab muscles in the first place.

“The body does not work in isolation, every movement is a chain reaction, links of movement. If you want to work your core then you need to stop thinking of them as the six-pack at the front of your body, instead the core is anything from the quads, all the way to the mid chest.”

Hopper says he sees people pulling their neck while trying to do ab exercises, which can cause neck pain and other issues.

“Also, throwing their hands up to achieve the movement by using momentum. As well, people will do the movement very quickly which is using your momentum and technique is sacrificed.”

Focus on the diet

And as the saying goes, abs are made in the kitchen.

“You need the proper fuel for energy and building the muscles,” Hopper says. “Proper diet will also allow you to see the abdominal muscles by reducing your body fat. It takes a lot of consistency week in and out to get to the point where you see a six-pack so to speak.”

READ MORE: 8 no-equipment exercises you’re probably doing wrong

Thebe adds instead of sticking to a strict diet plan, just be mindful of the food you are eating.

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“Try to consume whole foods that are nutrient rich over sugar, starchy nutritionally low foods. Protein, fruits and vegetables, some grains and a good range of fats will aid you on the route to finding those abs again.”

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