The 5-Minute Abs Workout Without Planks or Crunches

Photo: Peter Ardito

No boring planks or sit-ups required! Try these flat stomach exercises to get stronger abs while engaging your arms, legs, and glutes too.

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The Best Flat Stomach Exercise Routine

Peter Ardito

If you want a flat stomach, know this: No amount of crunches or flat-stomach exercises will magically get you there.

That said, these effective flat stomach exercises from Patrick Goudeau, a trainer and studio. manager for Life Time Fitness, work because, yes, they're core moves, but they also recruit other muscles to increase your overall effort level—which burns more calories and will build more muscle elsewhere in your body. The moves are perfect for tacking onto the end of your cardio or strength workout or squeeze in at home when you don't have time to hit the gym. (And, FTR, core strength has a lot of benefits besides helping you get a flat stomach!)

How it works: Do each exercise in order for the indicated number of reps with little to no rest between moves. The complete circuit should take less than 10 minutes.

You'll need: a medicine ball (optional)

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Pike and Extend


Targets: Abs, legs

  • Lie faceup on mat with legs extended over hips, arms overhead. Crunch up, reaching hands toward feet.
  • Keeping legs straight, bring arms back overhead as you lower upper back and right leg toward floor.
  • Crunch up, lifting left leg over hips and reaching hands to toes, then repeat on the opposite side.

Do 20 reps, alternating sides.

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Standing Side Crunches


Targets: Obliques, legs

  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, hands behind head with elbows out to the sides.
  • Shift weight onto the left leg and lift the right knee toward right elbow, engaging core to crunch to the right.
  • Tap the right foot to the ground and stand tall to return to start.

Do 15 reps; switch sides and repeat.

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Med Ball Hold with Leg Extension

Peter Ardito

Targets: Chest, abs

  • Lie faceup on mat, knees bent 90 degrees over hips, holding a medicine ball with arms extended over chest, palms in. (No medicine ball? Do the move without it and you'll still get the core-strengthening benefits.)
  • Engage core to curl the tops of shoulder blades off the floor.
  • Keeping right knee bent, straighten left leg toward the floor. Focus on pressing the lower back into the floor and drawing ribs and hip bones together. Hold for 1 count, then return to start.

Do 10 reps. Switch legs; repeat.


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Knee-Up with Overhead Press

Peter Ardito

Targets: Shoulders, abs, glutes

  • Sit on mat with knees bent and heels on the floor, holding a medicine ball in front of chest. (No medicine ball? Do the move without it.)
  • Lean back slightly and extend arms overhead while lifting feet a few inches off floor and bringing knees toward chest. Focus on engaging core and drawing belly button to spine to keep the pressure out of the lower back.

Hold position for 1 to 3 counts; return to start. Do 15 reps.

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Lunge and Twist

Peter Ardito

Targets: Abs, glutes, legs

  • Stand with feet together. Lunge back with right leg, bending knees to 90 degrees (form check!), and reach right hand to left foot.
  • Stand onto the left leg, and lift the right knee to hip height, bringing fists to chest and bending elbows out to sides while twisting to the right.
  • Twist back to center, lunge right leg back, and repeat.

Do 15 reps. Switch sides; repeat.

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