You don’t need crunches to build a stronger core — just 10 minutes and 5 exercises

a woman in sportwear performing a plank
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Want to build a stronger and more defined core, but hate crunches? We have good news. You can ditch crunches and still effectively torch your ab and core muscles. We've found a workout that does this in just 10 minutes and it only uses five exercises.

Building and maintaining a strong core provides you with a foundation for movement, making it easier for you to transfer force from your upper and lower body. While the best ab exercises are great for tuning into your abdominal muscles and working those six-pack muscles that so many people strive for, it's important to also incorporate exercises that target all of the muscles in your core. 

This workout designed by Britany Williams will help you do this. The fitness trainer's concise routine strives to target a range of muscles including the rectus abdominis, obliques, transverse abdominis, erector spinae and even some of your upper body like the shoulders.

Of course, one 10 minute workout won't build immediate muscle. Both consistency and progression are necessary. Gradually increasing the intensity, duration, or complexity of the exercises over time will help you to continually challenge the core muscles and promote growth. This is known as progressive overload training. 

To get started, check out Williams' core strengthening workout below.

5 move core building workout

One of the five exercises in this routine uses a dumbbell, while the remainder of the moves only require your body weight. If you have access to dumbbells either in your local gym or you maybe own some of the best adjustable dumbbells then do make use of them. However, it is just one exercise that requires weight so don't stress if you don't own a dumbbell. You could improvise and use a filled water bottle for added weight.

What does the workout look like? As mentioned above, the workout includes five exercises of which you will perform 10 reps of each move (or eight per side). There are four rounds to complete in total so make sure to take rests where needed. You can view Williams performing each move in the video below.

This simple core workout offers a minimal equipment and time efficient way to strengthen the core muscles while also targeting the abs. With a focus on high-repetition exercises and multiple rounds, you will engage key muscles in the core such as the rectus abdominis, obliques, and transverse abdominis. You will not only be building strength but also enhancing muscular endurance in the core region.

An exercise like the kneeling press out and rotation targets the entire core and also engages the shoulders. The rotation will add an extra challenge and help to improve your functional strength. Meanwhile, a move like the supine march focuses on the lower abdominal and deep core muscles as well as the hip flexors.

With all five exercises, proper form is essential for effectively targeting the core muscles and minimizing the risk of injury. Once you feel confident with a core workout like the one above, you can look to modify the intensity of the workout by adjusting the rest periods, or adding resistance as needed to continue progressing and achieving your fitness goals.

No matter your fitness abilities, everyone needs to take rest days. This allows the muscles to repair and grow stronger, preventing overtraining and any unwanted aches and pains.

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Jessica Downey
Fitness Writer

Jessica is an experienced fitness writer with a passion for running. Her love for keeping fit and fueling her body with healthy and enjoyable food quite naturally led her to write about all things fitness and health-related. If she isn’t out testing the latest fitness products such as the latest running shoe or yoga mat for reviewing then she can be found writing news and features on the best ways to build strength, active aging, female health, and anything in between. Before then she had a small stint writing in local news, has also written for Runners World UK (print and digital), and gained experience with global content marketing agency, Cedar Communications.


Born and raised in Scotland, Jessica is a massive fan of exercising and keeping active outdoors. When at home she can be found running by the sea, swimming in it, or up a mountain. This continued as she studied and trained to become a PPA-accredited magazine journalist in Wales. And since working and living in London, she splits her time between weight training in the gym, trying new fitness classes, and finding scenic running routes. Jessica enjoys documenting this on her fitness-inspired Instagram page @jessrunshere where she loves engaging with like-minded fitness junkies.


She is a big fan of healthy cooking and loves learning more about this area with expert nutritionists she has met over the years. Jessica is a big advocate for building healthy relationships with food rather than building restrictive attitudes towards it. When she isn’t eating or running she also enjoys practicing yoga in her free time as it helps her to unwind and benefits her performance in other sports.