A Thousand Crunches Won't Give You the Abs You Want, but This Exercise Will

We know that a variety of factors play into building your strongest abs possible—diet, of course, is a big one since you do need to be eating right in order to fuel (and, in turn, see) muscle growth. (Four words: less sugar, more protein.)

But proper exercise is obviously crucial too, and if you still deign to log dozens of crunches on a regular basis, all we can offer is a resounding STOP! Fitness pros agree that crunches aren't just largely inefficient; they can be borderline dangerous. "Crunches are linked with spinal micro-fractures and only improve strength in a non-athletic way," says Mike Durner, a certified strength and conditioning coach for Carmichael Training Systems.

Instead, it's time to zero in on a far more effective exercise that not only targets your core but actually engages your entire body—safely, to boot. That distinction goes to the plank. Behold your new workout catchphrase:

For more no-nonsense fitness tips, be sure to check out our brand-new wellness destination, THE/THIRTY!