11 Core-Stability Exercises That Do More For Your Abs Than Crunches Ever Could

POPSUGAR Photography / Chaunté Vaughn / HP

When it comes to training your body for optimal health, fitness professionals have varying techniques and ideas about how to get the job done. But one thing they all agree on is the importance of a strong core. And while that may make you think of crunches, one of the best ways to build trunk strength is core-stability exercises.

Your core is like the roots of your favorite plant. Strong and sturdy roots keep the plant stable and support the weight of the plant as it grows. The same can be said for your core, which is often considered the source, or root, of all movement. Every time you bend down to pick something up off the ground, reach for something in the back seat of your car, or lift something overhead, your core is working. “The well-trained core is essential for optimal performance and injury prevention,” Stuart McGill, PhD, explained in a 2010 review in the Strength and Conditioning Journal. No matter your fitness goals, having a strong and stable core is crucial.

The thing is, not every abs exercise builds deep core stability and strength. Crunches, for example, work your rectus abdominis – the superficial muscle on the front “six pack” section of your abs – but do little to target your deep core muscles (aka the transverse abdominis), the ones key for a strong foundation. To really activate those muscles, cultivate a mind-core connection, and build functional strength, you’ll need core-stability exercises.

To help you out, POPSUGAR tapped personal trainers and physical therapists for their go-to core-stability exercises. Ahead you’ll find 11-trainer approved core-stability exercises, and incorporate a few (or all of them!) into your workout routine.

Related: 7 Glute Activation Exercises That Belong in Every Fitness Routine

– Additional reporting by Lauren Mazzo and Alexis Jones

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