Bored of crunches? Strengthen your core with this expert trainer’s six-move workout instead

Improve your stability, posture and strength by developing all of your core muscles

A woman doing a dumbbell core workout
(Image credit: Getty Images / Antonio_Diaz)

Bored of run-of-the-mill abs workouts? If so, try these "unconventional" core exercises to strengthen your mid-body muscles without a single crunch or sit-up. 

The dumbbell moves come from the mind of Sweat app trainer Britany Williams. Each one challenges your core muscles to keep your body stable, maintain your posture and make sure you don’t lose your balance.

You can add these exercises into your other workouts or string them together as a circuit. 

How to do Britany Williams' "unconventional" cofre workout

To turn these moves into a workout, perform each one in turn for 10 repetitions (or eight repetitions on each side, if it’s a single-arm or single-leg exercise). Once you’ve finished all six, rest for 60 to 90 seconds then repeat this sequence. Continue this until you’ve finished three total rounds.

Benefits of training your core and abs

People often conflate the "core" with the six-pack muscles or rectus abdominis, which are targeted by sit-ups and crunches. These muscles are undoubtedly important, with major responsibilities including flexing the spine and contributing to core stability. 

But the rectus abdominis is only one part of the wider core, which includes muscles in the abdominals, lower back, hips and pelvis.  

These muscles work together to transfer power between the upper and lower body. To visualize this, think about a boxer generating power in their legs before transferring it through their torso and arm to throw a punch. 

The core also helps maintain your posture and balance, spares the spine from excessive load to prevent back pain and injuries, and resists unwanted movement—without these muscles, you’d simply fold when you tried to pick something up. 

By challenging you to support a dumbbell or two and stay stable at the same time, the multi-muscle compound exercises in Williams’ workout recruit these muscles more evenly than simple sit-ups and provide a comprehensive core workout.  

Need help choosing some weights? Our guide to the best adjustable dumbbells can help

Harry Bullmore
Fitness Writer

Harry Bullmore is a Fitness Writer for Fit&Well and its sister site Coach, covering accessible home workouts, strength training session, and yoga routines. He joined the team from Hearst, where he reviewed products for Men's Health, Women's Health, and Runner's World. He is passionate about the physical and mental benefits of exercise, and splits his time between weightlifting, CrossFit, and gymnastics, which he does to build strength, boost his wellbeing, and have fun.

Harry is a NCTJ-qualified journalist, and has written for Vice, Learning Disability Today, and The Argus, where he was a crime, politics, and sports reporter for several UK regional and national newspapers.