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Experts Corner


Are There Alternatives to Ab Crunches?
By Lisa Stone, ACE

Q. Is there any activity that I can do that can work my abdominals so I don't have to do crunches? I swam breaststroke throughout my pregnancy. If I continue with that, will that do the job? If not, is there another better swimming stroke? Is there any other physical activity?

A. No one *likes* doing abdominal exercises (at least no one I know of!), but they are a very important component of your exercise routine. Your ab muscles are the support system for your entire body - they help you stand erect, prevent lower back pain, help you balance, help stabilize you, and so on. Crunches are the most effective way to work your abs, but there are other ways, too. Do you have access to a stability ball (a big rubber ball used by fitness instructors and physical therapists)? If so, there are some great ab exercises you can do on that. You can also try doing standing crunches.

Swimming is an overall great way to get aerobic exercise and to tone your body, but it really doesn't target the abs specifically. You can do reverse crunches in the pool by floating on your back on a noodle or kickboard and using your abs to pull your knees toward your chest. You can also stand in waist-deep water and alternate lifting one knee to your chest while concurrently "crunching" your torso toward that lifted knee.


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