5 Ab Exercises Better Than Sit Ups: Core Exercises That Are Better For Your Back
While there’s nothing wrong with crunches, more often than not they’re just not as effective towards your bigger goals (less pain, carrying kids, functional core). These ab exercises are better than sit ups because they train your core as a whole, not just one muscle and in one plane of motion. Want to get stronger and reduce pain? Use these ab exercises that are better than crunches any day.
As a mom, your focus needs to be on improving the way your midsection functions before anything else. Picking up, holding, carrying and playing with your babes all require a strong set of muscles (and some core rehab from pregnancy), not just pretty ones.
And while sit ups and crunches do have their place, for most moms, especially new moms they can cause a bit more damage than good.
Why These Ab Exercises Are Better Than Sit Ups
Through pregnancy your abdominals stretch (and sometimes separate). If you’ve had diastalsis recti you’ll need to treat that long before you’ll be rocking any serious ab training (learn how to check for diastasis recti).
Post-pregnancy, sit ups and crunches often cause the belly to “round” or “bulge out” at the top of the movement. Instead of strengthening the abdominals after pregnancy, this further stretches them (read more about why to avoid these exercises specifically postpartum)
And while your back was made for flexion (rounding) we tend to already get a lot of that (reaching for kids, breastfeeding etc). Thus, the solution to being stronger and reducing pain, isn’t just found in training our abs with sit ups.
What Type Of Ab Exercises You Should Focus On Instead
Instead, place your focus on training your abs to be functional. The purpose of your core is to keep you upright and prevent movement.
Thus, making use of exercises that target the below anti movements are a better bang for your buck as a mom:
- anti-lateral flexion
It’s these movements that help us build stronger bodies as a whole and not just in one area. Having a strong core will help prevent back pain, carry kids easier, and do things you actually enjoy doing.
Ab Exercise Better Than Sit Ups #1 – The Deadbug
I love deadbugs, LOVE. They’re a fantastic anti-extension exercise performed on your back. This exercise teaches your body to resist the urge to extend the low back against tension.
It requires you to maintain a slight pelvic tilt against movement and thus, trains your entire core musculature.
This exercise is actually a progression of the rehab exercise you should be doing post-pregnancy. Plus, there are many ways to scale and make it hard (adding bands around your arms, feet, sideways).
Pro Tip: make sure that low back stays on the floor! Otherwise the exercise is ineffective. For a complete how-to breakdown watch this video.
Exercise #2 : Parlof Presses
Parlof presses are an anti-rotation exercise. Your body has to fight to remain neutral as a force, or tension attempts to get it to twist.
Keeping a neutral back and fighting the urge to rotate stimulates your entire side body. This can be done standing, kneeling, in half lunge position, with a press, as a hold, and more. There are literally tones of variations.
Learn more about the parlof press and how to perform it.
Ab Exercise Better Than Sit Ups #3 Plank Walkouts
This exercise is one of my favorites but it’s not great for brand new moms.
The exercise is an anti-extension exercise like the deadbug but instead of laying down your body will be in full plank position. The reason it’s not great for new moms is because of this position. As a brand new mom you’ll struggle to activate the muscles necessary to pull in your belly (those muscles are stretched remember?). So placing your body in a position where the belly in hanging only accomplishes making the problem worse.
If you’ve already rehabbed your abs than this exercise is great. The goal is to prevent your low back from extending as well as to reduce rotation as you move your arms away from your body and become more and more unstable.
To Perform: come into a full plank position with a bit of a pelvic tilt to really engage the deeper core muscles. Keep the feet wider than a normal plank to give you some support. Slowly walk your hands out in front of your face. While you do this, try not to let your low back arch or your hips twist. Only go as far as you can without falling on your face. Walk your hands back into a regular plank position and repeat.
Core Exercises Better Than Sit Ups #4 Cable Rotation/Rotational Pull
This exercise is a great active rotational exercise and can be done standing or kneeling. It forces the muscles of the trunk to work together and requires a lot of stability. It’s an awesome way to target your midsection and improve strength.
Like any other exercise, the rotation requires you to focus instead of just going through the movements. This trick and this trick alone is what will enable you to become strong and activate your muscles.
Exercise #5 Hollow Holds
Hollow holds are an old-school gymnastic exercise that works the front of the abs (anterior core) as well as the hip flexors, quads, everything. It’s a wicked hold, a challenging exercise but it’s a great way to build strength and stability.
Plus, it makes use of the pelvic tilt position which is crucial to giving your low back some love.
Here’s how to perform the hollow hold.
Don’t Forget To Pin These Ab Exercises Better Than Sit Ups
There’s a lot of options out there when it comes to ab exercises better than sit ups or crunches. Learning to engage your core and strengthen it will give you the biggest bang for your buck in terms of pain, performance and strength.
These ab exercises train your body to work as a whole and improve functionality. Then, when you’re ready, grab a set of gliders and REALLY fire up those abs!
Likewise, TRX straps can be a great core trainer as well! Check out this beginner TRX workout with a speedy core finisher.