When getting in shape, many people set a goal to tighten and tone their abs, or to get that 6 pack.  I put together a list of my top tips to tighten and tone your abs without crunches. It takes hard work and dedication, but if you follow my advice below, you’ll see results!

1) To tone your abs without crunches, you must first eat clean.

“Abs are made in the kitchen.” You hear this all the time, and it’s true! Only 20% of your physical results come from exercise. 80% is based on your diet. So if you want abs, you MUST eat clean. This means eating more whole foods and foods that are low in fat but high and protein, as well as cutting out the processed junk. This is the most important step if you want to tone your abs without crunches!

2) Use HIIT for cardio.

Not all cardio is created equal. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a superior form of cardio that is scientifically proven to burn more fat than your traditional cardio workout. To see your abs, you have to get rid of the subcutaneous fat on top of your muscles. Since HIIT burns 9x more fat than your typical cardio workout, you’ve got to mix it into your routine if you want faster results.

3) Strength train 3 times per week.

Again, to see your abs, you need to reduce your body fat. And to reduce your body fat, you need more muscle. No matter how much you work out now, you won’t see the same results if you aren’t strength training 3 times per week. Lifting weights drastically changes your body. Lift heavy weights to build more muscle and truly change your body composition. If you want to tone your abs without crunches, lift weights, it truly helps!

4) Train your core off the floor.

Most people think the only way to train your core is to lie down on the floor and do a bazillion crunches. Not true! In fact, you’re likely to have stronger, more defined abs by training them standing up! Just take a look at any boxer, volleyball player, gymnast, or tennis player. They have great abs – and it’s not from doing crunches. A regular ‘ol crunch on the floor really only tones your outermost layer of your abdominals – your rectus abdominus. Functional exercises, on the other hand, incorporate all layers. Believe it or not, one of the very best ways to train your abs is by doing push ups and plank type exercises! They target all of your core muscles from the front to the back.

5) Add resistance to your crunches.

If you insist on training on the floor with crunches, at least add some resistance to make your exercises more effective. Use a medicine ball, or pick up a weight. Your goal is to get your muscles to fail. By failing, they break down and build back up even stronger helping you burn even more calories.

6) Count your calories.

Different health and fitness professionals will tell you different things, but this is my personal opinion based on 10+ years working in the fitness industry. If you want to lose weight and see your abs, you have to count your calories! Just following the latest diet trend won’t cut it. You see, diet plans are created for the average person. So based on your body type, you could actually gain weight even if you’re eating super healthy. You need to know how many calories you’re burning to know how many you can take in. And if you’re really serious about your results, you’ll invest in a calorie-monitoring device, so you have an accurate idea of what you can afford calorie-wise. I highly recommend Polar products. Shop for either the A360 or the Polar Loop if you are looking for 24/7 fitness trackers.

7) Get more sleep.

Every day, it seems we have more and more substantial research coming out of our top universities proving that the amount of sleep you get affects your weight. In one study, a group of people who got 8 hours of sleep each night was compared to a group that got 5.5 hours. They had the same diet and exercise regimen, but guess who had almost 50% greater success in losing fat?… Go to bed early!

8) Reduce your stress.

When under stress, our bodies cope and attempt to protect us by creating more fat and holding on to it…especially in your mid section. Take steps to reduce the amount of stress in your life, and not only will you feel better, you’ll look better, too. That’s it, it’s easier said than done to tone your abs without crunches, but worth it!  Good luck!