I know abs are a big concern for women, and I also understand the instinct to want to put all your attention on the area you want to change the most.
Unfortunately, that's just not the way your body works. For starters, there's the whole "abs are made in the kitchen" concept. You simply can't out-exercise a bad diet. So, if your goal is to trim your waistline, your focus should be in the kitchen.
But secondly, when it comes to your training, you'll score much better results by taking off the tunnel vision: I used to be someone who, no matter what, always added a few hundred crunches at the end of any workout. It was just my go-to way to wrap things up. And sure, my core felt strong. But, since wising up a bit, I've noticed that I can get the same results—if not even better—without a single core-specific exercise.
I think it first clicked for me when I started getting back in the pool and swimming a lot a few years ago. My abs never looked better, and yet, I hadn't done a plank or crunch in months. Why? Oh right, because every time I pulled my arm through the water, it was actually my core that was engaging to help create that movement. Combine that with the fact that my arms were also stronger and more defined, and I was sold on a more comprehensive core approach.
That's really what this workout is all about. It might look like just an arms and shoulders workout, but you can't do any of these moves without your entire core getting in on the effort. They're a type of movement that experts sometimes refer to as dynamic stabilisation exercises: They challenge your core postural muscles (think: the deep core muscles that help cinch your waist in like a corset) by forcing them to stay steady as you move resistance (aka the dumbbells in your hands) around them. So while it doesn't seem like your abs are working because they're not moving, per se, they're actually getting stronger with every rep.
The end result: More defined biceps, triceps, and shoulders; a stronger core; and better posture. And you can't get all that with crunches.
This article was originally published by our partners at WomensHealthMag.com.