You don't need crunches to build core strength, just these five moves

Strengthen your core and abs without a sit-up in sight using this short routine

Two people doing a core workout
(Image credit: Getty Images)

You might have heard that the only way to develop your abs and build a stronger core is to do endless crunches and sit-ups. Thankfully, there's another way; this five-move, yoga-inspired core workout.

You don't need any equipment either, so it's an ideal option if you're training at home, traveling, or have found a quiet spot at the gym. If you can, it's worth rolling out one of the best yoga mats for a more comfortable experience.

This alternative abs workout was developed by personal training and yoga instructor Rhiannon Bailey (opens in new tab). In place of traditional moves like crunches, sit-ups, and mountain climbers, Bailey recommends a series of yoga-based exercises.

Many people work their abs and core to develop six-pack muscle, but this routine aims to establish practical muscle. Bailey explains that "these exercises target your transverse abdominals, which are vital to stabilize your core and support your lower back." 

If you've not tried yoga before or could use a refresher on these core-focused moves, you can practice your technique using Bailey's demonstrations. This helps you avoid injury or arching your lower back and get the most from your workout.

Watch Rhiannon Bailey's five-move core workout

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The aim is to do each exercise for 30 seconds with no rests between moves, so each round is just 2.5 minutes. Bailey suggests doing up to three rounds, making this an ideal core-focused workout finisher.

Although abs and core are used interchangeably to refer to the muscles around your stomach, there are some differences. Your core is a section of mid-body muscle that includes your rectus abdominis, otherwise known as the six-pack ab muscle. 

As a result, core strengthening exercises are best for when you want to improve your balance, stability, and posture. In contrast, the best abs workouts are an excellent choice for building visible muscle and developing a section of your core.

If your goal is six-pack muscle, you'll also need to reduce fat around your stomach, so it's worth coupling these five moves with a HIIT workout for fat loss or using some weights to take on a high-intensity resistance training (HIRT) session.

You don't need equipment for Bailey's routine, but if you have one of the best kettlebells, it's worth learning how to do kettlebell swings. This single move works muscles all over your body, boosts your metabolism, and strengthens your core.

James Frew
Staff Writer

James is a London-based journalist and Staff Writer at Fit&Well. He has over five years experience in fitness tech, including time spent as the Buyer’s Guide Editor and Staff Writer at technology publication MakeUseOf. In 2014 he was diagnosed with a chronic health condition, which spurred his interest in health, fitness, and lifestyle management.


In the years since, he has become a devoted meditator, experimented with workout styles and exercises, and used various gadgets to monitor his health. In recent times, James has been absorbed by the intersection between mental health, fitness, sustainability, and environmentalism. When not concerning himself with health and technology, James can be found excitedly checking out each week’s New Music Friday releases.