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Workouts That Work Your Middle


3 easy exercises for a stronger core — no crunches required

By Natalie Gingerich Mackenzie


Standard-issue crunches aren't the most effective exercise for reducing fat around your middle. Along with losing weight (all over) by maintaining a nutritious diet and increasing physical activity, the best moves for a trim tummy — as proven by researchers who placed electrodes onto exercisers to measure muscle activity — focus on balancing and stabilizing your torso and legs rather than flexing your spine. In fact, many of the most effective exercises hail from Pilates, the classic workout that focuses on core-strengthening moves. For the three moves that follow, focus on performing slow, controlled movements. Remember: using your body’s momentum is not allowed!


Pilates Roll-Up

Pilates Roll-Up

Lie flat on your back on a mat or carpeted floor, arms extended overhead and legs stretched forward. Lift your arms straight up, perpendicular to the floor, then lift your head and shoulders and slowly peel your spine up and over your hips, arms reaching toward your toes. Slowly reverse back to start. Repeat 10 times.


Leg-Up Crunch 

Leg-Up Crunch

Lie flat on your back on a mat or carpeted floor, legs extended straight up toward the ceiling and elbows bent, fingertips gently touching the back of your head. Engage your abs and lift your torso toward your knees. Start with 10 reps, and work up to 3 sets of 10.




Lie on your back on a mat or carpeted floor, hips and knees bent to 90 degrees with your shins parallel to the floor and your toes pointed. Bend your elbows to the sides and gently touch your fingertips to the back of your head. Engage your abs and lift your head and shoulders off the floor, then rotate, bringing your right underarm toward your left knee. At the same time, straighten and extend your right leg at about a 45-degree angle. Return to the starting position, then repeat on the opposite side. Start with 10 reps on each side, and work up to 3 sets of 10.


Click here for more easy moves to improve your middle!


Published on August 1, 2016. 


Natalie Gingerich is a health and fitness writer, runner, and ACE-certified personal trainer based in Syracuse, New York.

Cathy Yeulet/iStock/ThinkStock
Reviewed by Shira Goldenholz, MD, MPH on April 14, 2015.
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