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By: Lisa Payne

Rumor has it that back in her “Toxic” days, Britney Spears did 1,000 crunches three times a week to get her svelte six-pack. But while we feel the burn during crunches, you could actually be missing out on an even better core workout by skipping crunches altogether.

Basic crunches done on your back can actually limit the range of motion your core is capable of. They can also injure your spine and neck. Change the way you look at crunches.

These are the five best ab exercises you’ll need to rock your own svelte six-pack.

Axe Handle

Use a medicine ball or one free-weight. Separate your feet and hold the weight at your right hip. Keeping your arms straight, raise the weight forward and across. Stop when the weight is above your left shoulder. While turning your torso, pivot off your feet. Return slowly back to the right. Repeat again starting at your left hip.

plank

Forearm Plank with Alternating Reaches

Come into a forearm plank with your elbows underneath your shoulders and your hands clasped. Keeping your core braced and your hips still, reach your right arm forward like Superman. Set it down. Then reach your left. Go right to left without letting go of your core.

RELATED: The Ultimate Guide to Getting Stronger, Leaner Abs

Side Elbow-to-Knee Reaches

Come into a modified side-plank with your left hand and left knee down on the floor. Lift your right leg off the ground. Reach your right hand above your head so your arm and leg make a straight line. Bring your right elbow to your right knee, cinching your side obliques. Repeat on both sides!

reverse plank

Reverse Plank with Alternating Knees

Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. Place your hands on the floor next to your hips with your fingertips pointing toward your toes. Lift your hips off the ground. March your knees right to left toward your chest without lowering the hips.

RELATED: Why Your Workout Feels Harder After a Weeklong Break from the Gym

Plank with Knees Across

Start in a full plank with your hands underneath your shoulders. Take your right knee in toward your left elbow. Set your foot down and take your left knee in toward your right elbow. Alternate sides but definitely don’t rush!

The best ab exercises include things like plank variations and torso rotations. If your workouts include more functional movement with balance, agility and whole-body movements, you are making more core-efficient use of your workout. Step aside, crunches!