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7 Exercises To Build Up Your Core if You Hate Sit-Ups

If you hate sit-ups and skip core work to avoid them, check out these alternatives.
FACT CHECKED BY Alexa Mellardo

We all are familiar with the importance of training your core. Whether you want washboard abs, athletic performance improvements, or just want to keep your lower back healthy as you age, training your core is a must. If you hate sit-ups and skip core work to avoid them, we have some good news to share. You can get a complete core routine workout without sit-ups. We've rounded up seven of the best exercises to build up your core if you don't like doing sit-ups.

Sit-ups are simply not the most effective, functional, or safe way to train a strong core. Instead, we have seven amazing core exercises you can perform if you want to work on this area of your body. This situp-free core routine hits your core from the front, side, back, and rotational components. Perform each exercise for three sets of 12 repetitions, on both sides of the exercise alternates, and take 30 seconds between sets. For isometric exercises, hold for sets of 15 to 30 seconds.

Read on to learn the seven best exercises to build up your core if you hate sit-ups. And next, be sure to check out The 10-Minute Workout To Lose Belly Fat & Sculpt Abs in a Month.

Forearm Plank

man performing forearm plank, one of the best exercises to build up your core

The forearm plank is a core isometric exercise that strengthens your entire core, particularly your abs, back, and hips.

To perform a forearm plank, start in a pushup position, then lower down onto your forearms. Keep your body straight, and hold for as long as possible. Do not allow your hips to sag. You can reduce the difficulty of this exercise by lowering your knees to the ground. Increase the difficulty by elevating your feet or adding small amounts of weight to your back.

Bicycle Crunches

Bicycle Crunch exercises to get a smaller waist

Bicycle crunches target your abs, obliques, and hip flexors. They're a great alternative to standard crunches because they hit more total muscle groups, and you may find them to put less strain on your back.

To perform bicycle crunches, lie on your back with your hands behind your head. Lift your legs off the ground, and bend your knees at a 90-degree angle with your feet off the floor. Bring your right elbow toward your left knee as you extend your right leg straight as if pedaling a bicycle. Reverse the motion and then repeat on the other side. Alternative each repetition until you hit the total repetitions on both sides.

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Russian Twists

woman doing Russian twists with medicine ball

Russian twists target your obliques and improve your rotational core strength. They are great for both core muscle development and athletic performance.

To perform Russian twists, sit on the ground with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, holding a weight such as a plate or a medicine ball with both hands. Lean back slightly and lift your feet off the ground for added difficulty, or leave them on the floor to make it easier. Twist your torso to the right, and touch your weight to the ground without releasing your core tension. Then, twist to the left, and touch the ground on the other side.

Side Plank

fitness woman doing planks during her at-home workouts

The side plank targets your obliques, hips, and shoulders. Side planks are about stabilizing against a lateral force on your hip, making them activate your core much differently than core exercises performed on your back.

To perform the side planks exercise, start in a plank position, then rotate onto your right forearm and stack your feet, or bring your top foot over and plant it in front of your bottom leg for more stability. Lift your hips off the ground, and hold for three sets of up to 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side until all sets are finished.

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Dead Bug

illustration of dead bug exercise

The dead bug exercise improves your core stability and coordination as you isolate your lower and upper limb movements. This is a great one for your lower-back health. It's also a solid recovery option after full-body workouts to help reset your system after your workout.

To perform this exercise, lie on your back with your arms extended above you and your knees bent at a 90-degree angle (easier) or extended straight up (harder). Lower your right arm and your left leg toward the ground, then return to the starting position, and repeat on the other side. Keep your core firmly engaged throughout the motion, and repeat for target repetitions on both sides.


man doing superman exercise

Your core isn't just about abs. You also want to work your posterior core, including the muscles of your lower back and your glutes. The Superman exercise effectively targets your lower back and glutes with just your body weight, making it an important part of your comprehensive core routine.

To perform the Superman exercise, lie on your stomach with your arms extended in front of you and your legs straight. Lift your arms, chest, and legs off the ground as high as you can. Pause for one second, then lower back down. Repeat for target repetitions.

Hollow Body Rock

woman doing hollow body hold exercises to build up your core

The last of these exercises to build up your core is the hollow body rock. This move targets your entire core, including your abs and your lower back, while adding a rocking movement.

To perform hollow body rocks, lie on your back with your arms extended overhead and your legs straight. Lift your arms, shoulders, and legs off the ground, gently rounding your back against the floor. Raise your legs to rock your body towards your head. Then, slowly lower them to rock up, lifting your chest. Rock back and forth for target repetitions. If the rock is too difficult, simply hold the position.

Tyler Read, BSc, CPT
Tyler Read is a personal trainer and has been involved in health and fitness for the past 15 years. Read more about Tyler
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