Category Archives: Ab Training

Top 3 Compound Core Training Exercises for Abs

Top 3 Compound Core Training Exercises for Abs
By Nick Tumminello

Although just about everyone from fitness professionals to athletes to recreational exercisers talk about core training, most are unaware that the term Core, in reference to the muscles of center of the body, was first coined in 1982 by Bob Gajda (1966 Mr. America) & Richard Dominquez M.D. in their book Total Body Training.

In their book, Gajda and Dominquez stated: 

“The first essential concept in total body training is that of the “core.” Which is our term for the muscles of the center of the body. These muscles stabilize the body while we are in an upright, antigravity position or are using our arms and legs to throw or kick. They maintain our structure while we do vigorous exercises, such as running, jumping, shoveling snow, and lifting weights overhead. These are the muscles that control the head, neck, ribs, spine, and pelvis.” 

As you can see, not only are most unaware of where the term originated, they’re also unaware that your “core” isn’t just your abs and lower back; your core is made up of all of the muscles of your torso, including your glutes, lower back, mid-back, lats, shoulders and chest, along with your abs and obliques. So, although you may not think of doing chest presses and back rows as “core training exercises,” they most certainly are.

That said, it’s no secret that one of the staple concepts in strength training is to emphasize compound (multi-joint) exercises, and to supplement those movements with some isolation (single joint) oriented exercises. In other words, if you want to strengthen your lats or glutes, you’ll do a mix of compound exercises that hit those muscle along with other muscles, and sprinkle in isolation exercises that are more targeted on these specific muscles.

Interestingly, although this concept is considered a “no-brainer” when we’re looking to enhance core muscles such as the back, chest, and glutes, rarely do we see the principle of using compound movements utilized when it comes to training the abdominals and obliques. In that, many of the most popular and commonly used exercises for strengthening these core muscles are more isolation oriented.

However, a 2013 study published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, which sought to determine whether integration (i.e., compound) core exercises that require activation of the distal (away from the center of the body) trunk muscles (deltoid and gluteal) elicit greater activation of primary trunk muscles in comparison with isolation core exercises, found that the activation of the abdominal and lumbar muscles was the greatest during the exercises that required deltoid and gluteal recruitment. (1)

The researchers of this study concluded that:

“An integrated routine that incorporates the activation of distal trunk musculature would be optimal in terms of maximizing strength, improving endurance, enhancing stability, reducing injury, and maintaining mobility.”

In other words, a comprehensive abdominal training routine, like every other muscle group, should emphasize compound exercises and supplement with some isolation moves as well.

Enter Compound Core Exercises for Abs

Since your upper-body pushing exercises are already giving you plenty of work on your pecs and shoulders, and your upper-body pulling exercises are already giving you plenty of work on lats and mid-back musculature. And your lower-body exercises are already giving you plenty of work on your glutes and low back musculature, the focus of this post is on my top 3 compound core training exercises for activation of the abdominals and obliques.

Note: I’ve got another upcoming article thoroughly debunking the common myth that you don’t need to do exercises that focus on strengthening your abs and obliques, like the one’s I’m about to share in this post, because squats and deadlifts do the job more effectively. So keep your eyes open for it down the road on T-Nation.

The following (in no particular order) are my top three compound core training exercises for the abdominals and obliques that integrate the shoulders and the glutes. Now, some fitness experts might say that these exercises aren’t compound in that you don’t have multiple joints moving during the exercises, each of them require contractions at the shoulders, spine, and hips/pelvis in order to stabilize the body throughout the set. You might want to call these integrated core exercises instead, but this is just semantics.

Low to High Cable Chops

This video covers what I feel are the common mistakes made when performing the cable wood chop, along with demonstrating the specific way this exercise is performed in the Performance U training approach.

The 321 Plank Protocol 

This is a protocol I developed, which combines one-arm planks with the long-level posterior tilt plank.

Check out this video to learn how this protocol got its name and how it’s done:

Yes! In the video above, my hips were a bit high during the long-lever posterior tilt plank than I’d coach them to be. I was simply more focused on talking and keeping the above video concise that I didn’t give myself to focus on feeling where I was at.

Also, in the video I failed to mention that, on the one-arm planks, I’m looking for a small posterior tilt – slightly less that the posterior tilt plank – and a glute squeeze.

Medicine Ball Arm Walkout w/ Posterior tilt

This is a more advanced progression to the stability ball roll out. It’s also one of my personal favorite abdominal exercises to do, and has been one of the more popular abdominal training exercises among the more advanced athletes and physique competitors I’ve worked with.

If you’re interested in learning more Core Training: Facts, Fallacies & Top Techniques (not an affiliate link) covers my entire core training system, Full Spectrum Core Training, in detail. These videos give you instant access to my closed-doors workshop where I share my top exercises, techniques and proper application to maximize your core training. Check out this core training game-changer here…



  1. Integration core exercises elicit greater muscle activation than isolation exercises. Gottschall JS, Mills J, Hastings B. J Strength Cond Res. 2013 Mar;27(3):590-6.


Long Lever Posterior Tilt Planks Kick the Shit Out of Traditional Planks

Hi Fitness Peeps – just wanted to give you a heads-up.

Brad Schoenfeld and I just got a paper published in Sports Biomechanics titled:

An electromyographic comparison of a modified version of the plank with a long lever and posterior tilt versus the traditional plank exercise

We wanted to see how increasing the lever length and posteriorly tilting the pelvis affected core muscle activity in a plank, so we compared four plank variations:

traditional plank
long lever plank
posterior pelvic tilt plank
long lever posterior tilt plank (LLPTP)

Plank Variations

By the way, here’s how you perform an LLPTP (and HERE is an article detailing the form):





As you can see, the traditional plank doesn’t activate the core very well. This doesn’t imply that it’s a useless exercise; quite the contrary. It’s a beginning level plank that every lifter should master prior to progressing to more challenging variations.

Lengthening the lever actually had a greater affect on core muscle activity than posteriorly tilting the pelvis. This surprised both Brad and I, who hypothesized that the PTP would have a greater affect than the LL.

Combining the PTP and LL was, to no surprise, the most effective strategy for maximizing core muscle activation in a plank. With the LLPTP, you get over 100% of MVC out of the upper rectus abdominis, lower rectus abdominis/internal obliques, and external obliques. This is a big bang movement for the anterior core (not the erectors though – they barely get worked in any of the tested plank variations).

Take home message: planks can be highly effective when you know how to modify them and increase the challenge. This is something that I learned from Pavel Tsatsouline, who thought up the RKC plank years ago. Give the RKC plank or the LLPTP a try and see for yourself how demanding they can be!


Core Stability Training for the Advanced Lifter

Core stability training has been all the rage in the fitness field over the past decade, for good reason. Learning to move at the hips while keeping the spine stable is crucial for new lifters. While most lifters and trainers are well aware of simple core exercises that are properly suited for beginners, many aren’t well-versed in progressing these exercises to suit more advanced lifters. Too many lifters extend the duration of basic planking drills as their primary method of progressive overload, which builds strength endurance. But what about strength and power? A strong, powerful core is needed to stabilize the body during heavy lifting and explosive sporting actions.

In this article, I’ll go over some of the most effective core exercises that more advanced lifters can add to their libraries and discuss ways to make some of the classics a little more challenging.


The Core

Before I delve into exercises, let’s first discuss the core. The core refers to more than just the abs. It encompasses the entire musculature of the torso, including the abdominals, obliques, erectors, glutes, hip flexors, lats, adductors, and more. The core acts on the shoulders, scapulae, spine, pelvis, and hips. At the spine, it can produce, reduce, and resist spinal flexion, extension, lateral flexion, and rotation. It is responsible for transmitting forces from the upper body to lower body. Please read Strategies for Optimal Core Training Program Design for a comprehensive article on core training which I wrote with Brad Schoenfeld. As you can see, proper core training will require more than just a couple of sets of crunches or hanging leg raises!

Unfortunately, many lifters don’t train the core in its entirety, which leads to sub-optimal results. While the core doesn’t require a ton of extra attention, assuming a lifter is already performing squats, deadlifts, hip thrusts, chin ups, presses, and rows, additional exercises are indeed needed to fill gaps. To train the core completely, one must consider the joints in play, the possible actions at each joint, and the common force vectors the lifter is seeking to strengthen. When training core stability, you’re enhancing the body’s ability to resist movement, hence the exercises can be considered “anti-movement exercises.”


Sumo stance band anti-rotation holds

The sumo stance band rotational hold trains the ability to resist rotation. Since the sumo stance is wider and has a bigger base of support, more weight can be used than in a traditional stance band rotational hold. You want to find the sweet spot where you’re going as heavy as possible without leaning or twisting during the set’s duration.

First, attach a band to an immovable object. Power racks are preferred, but machines work well too. We typically use a pro-mini or light long band (see Elitefts, Sorinex, or Rogue for bands), but the band you use will be dependent on your strength levels. You can use a lighter band and just walk out further for more resistance.

Take the free end of the band and grip it in both hands, double overhand.

Sumo AR Hold Grip

Walk the band out until the desired amount of tension is reached, take a sumo stance, with knees slightly bent, in an athletic stance with good posture. Keep a fairly upright torso with the hands near the chest.

Keeping the spine in neutral, extend the arms straight out in front of you so that the elbows are fully extended and the hands are chest level. You should be out far enough that when you extend your arms, they make a 90 degree angle with the band.

Sumo AR hold 1 2

This exercise may be done for time or reps. We typically do 2-3 sets of 10-20-second holds on each side 1-2x per week. Cable columns can also be used for this exercise. HERE is a video.

Loaded RKC planks

The RKC plank looks very similar to a normal plank, with a few subtle differences. In the RKC plank, the elbows can be further out in front, which lengthens the lever. The feet and arms can be closer together, which narrows the base of support. Finally, the pelvis is posteriorly tilted with a giant glute squeeze, which causes the anterior core, along with the glutes, to fire much harder.

RKC PLank Loaded Good

We will place between one and four 45 lb plates on the low back of the lifter. Rather than attempt to hold for longer time, we attempt to use more load or alter technique so that the static hold is more challenging. Even with advanced lifters, 20 seconds is about the max time we’ll go for with this movement. We typically do 2-3 sets of 10-20-second holds 1-2x per week. HERE‘s a video (without the weight).

Hollow body holds

The best core exercises often seem overly simple, but when performed correctly, they are very challenging. This is definitely the case with the hollow body hold.

The hollow body hold trains anti-extension, and will be performed for time rather than reps. Again, 15-30 seconds for 2-3 sets 1-2x per week is sufficient to get an ideal training effect from these. HERE is a video you can watch (I miss my beard and mohawk!).

Hollow Body Hold 1 2

First, lie on your back with the legs straightened out and the arms extended overhead. From this supine position, you’ll elevate the legs and arms off the floor and press your low back into the ground, flattening out the lumbar spine and holding tension in the core. Make sure you elevate just enough so that your anterior core is really fighting the extension moment being created, if you go too high, you’ll make the exercise easier and cheat yourself on the benefits it provides. Dumbbells and ankle weights can be used to increase the difficulty of the exercise. HERE is a video you can watch (I miss my beard and mohawk!).

Loaded dead bugs

Another classic anti-extension core stability exercise is the dead bug. However, this drill is not challenging enough for the typical advanced lifter, so modifications are in order. Slowing the movement down and holding the bottom position while exhaling fully on each rep will increase the difficulty, but many lifters will move past this point quickly as well. When body weight is too easy, we load the movement up to achieve progressive overload.

Dead Bug Loaded 1 2

Ankle weights may also be added to the lower extremities if they are available, but it’s typically the arms that get ‘too light’ first. Just 5-10 lbs will add enough difficulty for most lifters, but you can go heavier than this so long as you control the movement. You’ll set up for a regular dead bug holding a weight in each hand (dumbbells or plates may be used). Lower opposite arm and opposite leg to just above the ground, exhale and return to the start position before lowering the next pair of limbs.

Dead Bug Ankle Weights

The dead bug is one of those movements where it’s up to the lifter to make difficult. You can go through the motion without engaging the core very much, or it can be one of the most challenging anti-extension drills in your library. So make sure you’re staying tight throughout the movement, and do not let the spine hyperextend or the pelvis anteriorly rotate. We prefer to keep our lumbar spines flattened out on these, but a neutral spine and pelvis is preferred by many trainers. 2-3 sets of 5-10 reps on each side performed 1-2X/wk is recommended. HERE‘s a video.


The landmine trains the torso’s ability to resist motion – the bar actually induces lateral flexion torque, rotation torque, and flexion torque on the spine, so the core has to work hard to remain stable. Not only is it a fantastic core exercise, it’s fun and jacks the heart rate up pretty high as well.

You’ll need to set up in front of a landmine or grappler unit, but if one is not available, a barbell stuck into a corner will suffice as well.

Pick up one end of the landmine either fist over fist or with an interlocked grip. How far away you stand will depend on your arm length and height. Once your grip is set, the forearms should make a 90 degree angle with the bar.

Landmine Grips

In an athletic stance, keeping the core engaged, extend the arms out in front but don’t lock them out completely. Drop the landmine down towards one hip without bending the elbows. While maintaining some distance from the landmine, return to the start position and drop to the other side.

Landmine 1 2

The majority of the motion should take place at the shoulders. Remember, you’re trying to resist spinal motion, so keep the core braced and don’t let the weight control you. For variety, you can pivot and rotate around the bar (see HERE), and if you have a grappler, you may do them like THIS. If performing these, 2-3 sets of 10 reps on each side 1-2X/wk will suffice.

Ab wheel rollouts

The ab wheel rollout is a great progression once you’ve mastered planks and stability ball rollouts. The rollout trains anti-extension and may be progressed further by adding a band to the ab wheel.

First, kneel down on some type of padding (the Airex Balance pad works great for this). Take the ab wheel in both hands and center your body over it. Before descending, extend the hips, squeeze the glutes, and engage the core. This alignment should be kept throughout the movement.

To descend, think about sinking your hips to the ground as your arms extend forward – don’t envision reaching with the arms. Once you’ve hit the lowest point, pause for a second then, pull the arms back underneath the body until the start position is reached.

Ab Wheel Rollout 1 2

Make sure to not allow the low back to arch or the pelvis to anteriorly tilt during the movement. Another common mistake is allowing the hips to flex too much on the way up. This motor strategy utilizes the hip flexors to pull the body backward, but it’s not ideal.  Think of this exercise as a moving RKC plank. We do 2-3 sets of 6-15 reps 1-2X/wk. HERE is a video for you to check out. If the kneeling version is too easy, try negatives from the standing position, as shown HERE. If this is too easy, be like Ross Enamait and do them one arm with a weighted vest HERE, or utilizing a ramp HERE, or pausing isometrically HERE.

Ab Rollout Hips Flexed

Too much hip flexion – see pic above for proper form

Off bench oblique hold

The off bench oblique hold trains the body’s ability to resist lateral flexion. You can think of it as a loaded progression for the side plank.

Set up in a GHR laterally, with the bottom foot out in front and the top foot behind you. The GHR pad should be positioned at the side of the hip. Your hips and knees should be fully extended, the glutes should be tensed, and the torso should be completely straight. Grab a dumbbell with the bottom arm and return to neutral. Hold this position for the prescribed duration. 2-3 sets of 20-30 second holds once or twice a week is sufficient. You can also do these off of a standard bench. HERE is a video.

Side Bend Hold off GHR

Side Bend Hold Foot Position

Suitcase hold

The suitcase hold is another anti-lateral flexion drill, and is very easy to set up. Simply place a dumbbell or kettlebell on a bench or step. Stand next to the weight so that it is at your side. Pick it up with the hand and stand tall. You want to keep the shoulder girdle engaged, spine neutral, and glutes squeezed throughout the duration. Make sure you don’t go so heavy that you have to lean or rest the weight on your side to get through it. Go heavy enough for a good challenge, but be able to maintain good alignment the entire time. A barbell can be used in a power rack to enable even heavier loading. 2-3 sets of 20-30 second holds once or twice a week is sufficient. HERE‘s a video.

Suitcase Hold 1 2


I’ve provided you with some very challenging core stability exercises. The RKC plank, hollow body hold, dead bug, and ab wheel rollout will strengthen your anti-extension spinal stability strength. The off bench oblique hold and suitcase carry will strengthen your anti-lateral flexion spinal stability strength. And the sumo band anti-rotation hold and landmine will strengthen your anti-rotation spinal stability strength. Many of these exercises will strengthen the pelvic and hip musculature as they strengthen the spinal musculature since the movements require stability at all three body regions.

If you’re astute, you might be wondering about anti-flexion spinal stability strength. If you read this blog, then I’m assuming you already perform squats and deadlifts, in which case you’re very effectively strengthening spinal anti-flexion stability. A stronger core can improve performance and prevent injuries. If you’re an advanced lifter seeking challenging core stability drills, give the exercises mentioned in this article a try.

Do Sit-Ups Ruin Your Posture?

Every few weeks, someone will tag me in a Facebook thread where people are arguing about the negative effects of sit-ups or crunches on posture. Typically, someone will claim that people are already sitting all day long and then question why would we dare put them into flexed postures during their training. They’ll also claim that performing sit-ups or crunches leads to negative postural adaptations such as kyphosis and forward head posture.

Trust me, I understand the sentiments. On weekends, when I don’t train myself or any clients, I tend to sit for much of the day trying to catch up on reading and writing. I can certainly feel the effects of such sitting on my body. Do this day in and day out, and I’m certain that it will have a negative impact on posture and function.

Sitting posture

However, luckily we have strength training to prevent these negative postural adaptations. I suppose that now is a good time for a disclaimer. Posture and pain are not well-correlated. You see people with the most jacked up posture in life who exhibit no pain whatsoever, people with “ideal” posture who are in pain, and everything in between.

I do feel that for optimum performance and function, one should pay attention to postural adaptations. To list an example, most powerlifters tend to exhibit internally rotated shoulders due to years of heavy bench pressing. In fact, many sports lead to postural adaptations, and while these are usually favorable for performance, they can sometimes be suboptimal for longevity. Therefore, I definitely feel that it’s important for lifters to pay attention to posture.

That said, if you simply conduct proper strength training and conditioning, posture almost always “takes care of itself.”

I do not feel that we should give too much concern about the individual postural effects of every single exercise and should instead just strengthen all the muscles in the body and focus on the postural effects of the entire regimen as a whole. For example, I’ve long heard from strength coaches and physical therapists that we should never strengthen the psoas. What do they think happens when we sprint? Sprinting requires extremely intense hip flexor contractions. I’ve long heard from strength coaches and physical therapists that we should never strengthen the upper traps. What do they think happens when we deadlift, farmer’s walk, and overhead press? Deadlifting and farmer’s walks require extremely intense upper trap contractions, as does overhead pressing. Do these same strength coaches and physical therapists want us to avoid running, deadlifting, carrying, and lifting overhead?

Strengthening muscles builds flexibility too! 

What many people fail to understand is that the dynamics of full range muscle contraction leads to the maintenance of flexibility. Hell, most studies that compare strength training to stretching show no differences in flexibility gains. In particular, eccentric contractions will prevent muscle shortening (it actually builds sarcomeres in series). This is why I like straight leg sit-ups off the glute ham developer (stopping at a torso parallel position) and crunches off a Swiss ball or an ab mat. However, make no mistake about it, if you play sports, you will be forced to strengthen these muscles.

If you train like an athlete, there’s simply no way to avoid working all the muscles!

Now, I want you to know that I’ve done my homework. I’ve studied spinal compressive and shear forces, along with muscle lines of pull, and other biomechanical topics. I’ve also trained for over 20 years, worked out with tons of different training partners, and trained hundreds of individuals myself.

These days, I don’t perform or prescribe a lot of abdominal/core exercise. Since you get a lot of overlap during full body exercises anyway, you don’t need that much stimulus to achieve impressive levels of core strength and stability. My favorite core exercises right now are the RKC plank, hollow rock hold, and band rotary hold.

However, when I had my Scottsdale personal training facility Lifts, every single client performed two abdominal exercises every day. We usually paired up a linear core exercise with a lateral/rotation exercise and did 1-2 sets of each. For example, straight leg sit-ups and 45 degree side bends, or weighted planks and side planks, or Swiss ball crunches and side crunches, or hanging leg raises and side bends, or foam roller abdominal holds and landmines, or ab wheel rollouts and Pallof presses. You get the point.

As you can see, we performed both dynamic as well as static abdominal movements. We had 40-50 clients coming in 2-5 times per week, and not a single lifter ever experienced pain or injury from any of these movements! If they were as dangerous as they’re purported to be, then I would have expected at least several incidents of pain and injury. Moreover, no client’s posture “eroded” over time. Contrarily, many of my clients started exhibiting “better” posture as they trained with me and my trainers.

Why? Because we strengthened the hell out of the backside of the body! Sure we did our pressing and trained our arms and abs/core. But we spent more time strengthening our glutes, hamstrings, erectors, traps, rhomboids, and rear delts. We performed all types of deadlifts, rows, hip thrusts, back extensions, chins, pulldowns, reverse hypers, good mornings, pendulum quadruped hip extensions, and more.

If you strengthen the entire body, including the traps, delts, bi’s, tri’s, pecs, lats, rhomboids, erectors, abs, obliques, glutes, hip flexors, quads, hams, adductors, and calves, the body tends to “fall in line.”


If you only trained the abs, maybe this would lead to kyphosis over time. If you only trained the hip flexors, maybe this would lead to anterior pelvic tilt. If you only did push-ups and pull-ups, maybe this would lead to shoulder internal rotation over time. But you don’t do this. You train your entire body. Because you read this blog, I know that you know the importance of strengthening the glutes and the whole darn posterior chain for that matter. So the abs and glutes balance out the erectors and hip flexors. The scapula retractors and rotator cuff muscles balance out the pecs. The rear delt balances out the front delt. The lower trap balances out the upper trap. The hams balances out the quads. The entire body is strengthened and posture, function, and performance is improved.

Posture isn’t the problem with most beginners; weakness is the problem! 

Weak abs, weak glutes, weak erectors, weak hamstrings, weak quads, weak pecs, weak arms, weak shoulders, weak hip flexors, weak lats, weak scapula retractors, and weak calves. They’re weak everywhere. You strengthen all the muscles through intelligent exercise selection, and voila! The body shores itself right up.

Short or long does not equal strong.

In the case of sitting, certain muscles will be held for long periods of time at long lengths (ex: erectors), and certain muscles will be held for long periods of time at short lengths (ex: psoas). They will gradually adapt in length to accommodate the persistent posture. However, this doesn’t make them weak or strong. Exercising makes them strong.

It’s all about balance!

The way I see it, if you’re going to claim that negative postural adaptations are occurring, then you need to back it up. I’m aware of no research that suggests that adhering to a well-balanced full body strengthening regimen leads to negative alterations in posture. Anecdotally, I can confidently claim that quite the opposite occurs. And if there is no published research on the effects of a balanced strength training program on postural adaptations, then we can then look to anecdotes to help us guide our decisions.

I give you the ultimate case study – Herschel Walker!

Check out the interview below. Herschel has done 3,500-5,000 sit-ups every day since he was a kid. He’s currently 51 years old. In fact, he credits this daily regimen for keeping him healthy and strong over the years.


For simplicity’s sake, if we assume that he started at the age 15 and performed 4,000 sit-ups per day, we’re looking at almost 1.5 million sit-ups per year and over 50 million sit-ups in his lifetime! 

50,000,000 sit-ups! 

Here’s a hilarious 1989 video where you can see how Herschel trains:


If you look at the pictures at the bottom of this article, I think you’ll agree that his posture looks just fine. It hasn’t eroded over the years. Sit-ups and crunches will not turn you into Quasimoto. Herschel has always made sure to train his entire body with sit-ups and push-ups along with exercises such as pull-ups, dips, sprints, squats, lunges, sled work, hill sprints, and carries.

I can already anticipate the opposing argument – “But Herschel is a freak!” Good point, except that we have thousands of these examples. Going with extreme cases, we have Manny Pacquiao, who does 2,000-4,000 sit-ups/crunches per day and has great posture.



I’m not advising you to do thousands of sit-ups per day like these guys. What I am saying is that you do NOT need to fear doing 2 sets of 20 reps, using weight if need-be. 

Just like most bodybuilders, who still have good posture.

Just like most martial artists, who still have good posture.

Just like many Olympic athletes, collegiate athletes, and pro athletes, who still have good posture.

If Herschel can do 50 million sit-ups and not have poor posture, I’m pretty sure you can do 40 reps per day and be fine, as long as you use good form.

It’s time we stopped perpetuating this nonsense and simply advised people to train the entire body properly. 

You can do your sit-ups or crunches, just make sure you’re doing deadlifts, hip thrusts, and rows. Make sure you’re keeping your lumbar spine in mid-ranges and avoiding excessive lumbar flexion. This can be achieved by keeping the chest tall and pulling with the hip flexors in combination with the abs during sit-ups, and by only raising the torso to 30 degrees relative to the horizontal during crunches. Just do a couple of sets and don’t go overboard on the volume.

If you don’t like crunches and sit-ups, then don’t do them. There are plenty of other great abdominal exercises such as RKC planks, hollow body holds, and band rotary holds. Whatever you do, make sure you strengthen the posterior chain in concert.