Josh Bowen: The Anti-Crunch — 10 Better Exercises than Crunches or Sit-ups


Do me a favor and Google “ab workout” and see what the response will be. 59,000,000 results for “ab workout!” That is astounding and also very scary. The general consensus of anyone with a great stomach (both male and female) is they must do thousands of crunches and/or sit-ups. When in all reality the best stomach physiques have less to do with how often they exercises their “core” and more to do with what they fueled their body with i.e. what they ate.

Shocking huh? You were under the impression that a six pack came from doing tons of crunches? Wrong. In fact, let me show you how ineffective doing sit-ups and crunches can be, per the American Council on Exercise burning 3,500 calories through situps alone requires you to perform an impossible number of reps. If a 145-pound person performs situps at a moderate pace of 20 per minute, she burns about 4 calories per minute. To burn 3,500 calories, this person would need to perform situps for 875 minutes — and perform an unattainable total of 17,500 sit-ups.

I don’t know about you but the rate of return is not in your favor. So you may now be asking yourself how do I achieve a great abdominal physique? Simple answer; eat better.

However, the article today has nothing to do with how to make your abs pop and everything to do with alternatives to work your midsection and strengthen the muscles involved to reduce lower back pain and combined with a great strength training program and proper nutrition can give you the body you have always wanted.

Below is a select group of my favorite “core” exercises. Each one involves multiple muscle groups and can be added to most every program. I have included videos of each of these exercises with a brief (very brief) description.

*Since my audience is the general population, I did not feel the need to go over everyone’s head with complicated anatomy, physics and biomechanics. Most people’s attention span is very short, the videos are straight to the point but if you need more explanation on any of the below, please feel free to email me at

Anti-Crunch Exercises

The Plank

Variation: Reaching Plank

With proper alignment, straighten your body to 180 degrees with hips facing down and no excessive curve in the back. Slowly extend one arm out and then place it back on the table or ground.

Variation: Plank Rotation

Same as above, however this time rotate at the shoulders and hips from left to right touching the ground or table slowly. Rotate through the shoulders not the lower back.

Variation: Plank Rope Slams

Same plank position, however grab the rope and slam it down while keeping hips parallel to the ground.

Reverse Crunch

Variation: TRX Double Knee Drive

Same position as the plank, however place palms on the ground and put feet in the TRX straps. Drive both knees toward stomach without dipping hips.

Variation: TRX Mountain Climbers

Same as above, this time just rotate one leg in and one leg out. Remember to not dip your hips.


Variation: BOSU Ball Walk-Outs

Stand on BOSU ball and squat down and move your hands from your knees to the bottom of the BOSU ball to the floor an extend into a plank. Through reverse the position to stand completely erect.

Variation: Kneeling Kettlebell Swing

Place one knee in the center of the BOSU ball and the other foot on the ground. Perform a standard kettlebell swing squeezing the glute on the BOSU ball and stretching the glute on the opposite side.


.Variation: Hip Bridge with Chain

Place head, neck and shoulders comfortably on a bench. Straighten body out fully and then dip hips to a 45 degree angle an then drive the hips up, squeezing the glutes. Add chain if necessary

Accessory Ball Work

Variation: Russian Twist

Make a 45 degree angle with body, placing knees toward the chest and not on the ground. Rotate about at the shoulders to touch the medicine ball on each side of the table or floor. Perform slowly and do not rotate from lower back.

Variation: Ball Slams

With good posture and proper alignment, squat down and pick the ball up and overhead. Then let the tissue stretch and slam the ball down as hard as possible. Repeat.

There are many different (and better) options for “core” work out there that everyone can try. I encourage you to give these exercises a try and insert them into your program for a better option to the crunches and sit-ups of old.



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