When I started training with Peter Lee Thomas about five years ago, though, I realised that the idea that you have to lots of exercises that just work your abs was a total misconception.
Actually, my average workout these days doesn't involve a single situp or crunch. (The only exception: If I'm training for a super-specific look for a film. I did a lot of weighted abs exercises when prepping for Bruised last year in order to get my abs muscles to pop on a whole new level.)
"My core is just as toned and strong as ever."
The workouts I do with Peter are all about full-body movements - like squats - so I'm hitting all of my muscles at once, abs included. And guess what? My core is just as toned and strong as ever.
One abs move I do incorporate into my workouts pretty often is planks. I never did planks back in the day, but they've made a huge difference for my core strength and definition.
Sometimes, I'll just hold a plank for as long as I can. My abs start to ache first, but pretty soon my entire body feels like it's on fire.
Usually, though, we level up planks into exercises like renegade rows with dumbbells. Once, Peter even had me do resistance band rows in a plank position, with mountain-climbers between sets of 10 or 20 reps on each arm. My abs and entire upper body were sore for days after that workout.
Another full-body workout I did recently also left my core (and the rest of my body) crazy sore—and it was only two moves!
Here's how it worked:
- 40 lunges with biceps curls, wearing ankle weights and wrist weights, and holding my foam dumbbells
- 20 squats to overhead presses, wearing a booty band and holding my foam dumbbells
- 38 lunges with biceps curls
- 19 squats to overhead presses
- 36 lunges with biceps curls
- 18 squats to overhead presses
Yep, I just kept working my way down, alternating between the lunges and squats. I thought only my legs (and maybe my arms) would be sore, but it hurt to laugh afterwards because my abs were engaged the whole time.
Don't believe me? Try it for yourself! Start off using just the booty band and dumbbells, and add the wrist weights and ankle weights if you're ready for an extra challenge. I promise you'll never force yourself to do crunches again.
Halle Berry is a producer, director, and actress. Now known as one of the fittest women in Hollywood, Berry recently launched rē•spin, a community for stories, conversations, and products for health and wellness seekers. In her weekly WH column and #FitnessFriday Instagram posts, she shares a personal look into her own health and fitness—along with the tips, tricks, and advice behind her famously fit physique.
This article originally appeared on Women's Health US.