I enjoy exercising, but far more when it's an activity like running, biking, rowing, yoga, rock climbing, etc... It's ok with me if those activities take place in a gym, like treadmills, just not a specific gym exercises like a bench press, lat pulls, etc.

Of all the exercises one can do in the gym, by far my least favorite are those targeting my core and abs.

With that, can anyone recommend things that are ab/core heavy activities?

To define that in negative. Not any of these routines http://healthandstyle.com/fitness/no-crunch-ab-exercises/

Kayaking comes to mind, but there must be others that give an intense ab workout?

  • I train them, but i like it, so Frame challenge: skip abs. Do you have a reason why you want to do those exercises? Because it's something you just do? If you "work out" balanced and well otherwise and don't have a very good reason, skip it. Working them in isolation is hardly worth the time, it's one of those things that stuck around from the fitness craze of the 80ies and workouts primarily meant to be marketable to a certain demographic. You should consider that option and if you want to know about it more, edit your question accordingly.
    – Raditz_35
    Commented Mar 29, 2019 at 17:11
  • @Raditz_35 I just prefer full body activities... focused training I find boring and de-motivating. The thing is aside from the obvious ones here verywellfit.com/sports-that-build-six-pack-abs-3120077 There aren't any I can think of that really work ones abs in a "intense" and "full range".
    – jb510
    Commented Mar 29, 2019 at 22:11
  • I'm really sorry but I don't see a connection between your comment and mine. I get that mine might have been confusing, to reiterate: dont worry about it, just skip them and do what you enjoy unless you have a very good reason why you wish to train them specifically. There is no need to join a gymnastics team just to train your abs.
    – Raditz_35
    Commented Mar 30, 2019 at 8:00
  • @Raditz_35 Your comment dismissed my question and suggested I "ask something else". In spite of that I tried to answer your followup questions in case doing so would help clarify my original question. Ironically you wrote "Working them in isolation is hardly worth the time", which is exactly what I'm trying to avoid.. just I'm also trying to work out my core more than I do with my present activities... hence the original question.
    – jb510
    Commented Mar 30, 2019 at 16:36
  • I believe Raditz is asking a valid question, Do you have a reason why you think you should be doing core exercises? The answer to that question might help us answer your original question.
    – Chris
    Commented Mar 30, 2019 at 20:03

1 Answer 1


Sports that require the co-ordinated movement of the upper and lower body will naturally activate your abs/core muscles. Sports in which this rotational movement is constant will give the abs/core muscles an intense workout.

Some obvious examples I can think of (I'm sure there's more):

Kayaking (As you mentioned):

The abdominal rotation and the paddling motion will activate the abs/core muscles. The obliques will be hit hard when trying to control your balance against a heavy current or when making sharp turns.


Mid-flight maneuvers E.G. Spiking & blocking a volleyball, dynamically activates the abs/core. During a spiking maneuver, the upper body will tense and rotate sharply to transfer power to the shoulders and arms.


It is important to contract the abs/core muscles to have a streamlined posture when aiming to glide through the water. A strong core will act as the base from which to rotate for each stroke.


Exercises like the handstand etc. will work the abs/core when trying to maintain good balance and posture. I imagine this is the case for most gymnastic exercises. The rings exercise comes to mind as something of an extremely intense abs/core workout.

Lastly, I would like to point out that there is plenty of weight exercises which indirectly work the abs/core. E.G. Overhead press (requires you to brace your core to prevent your back arching), Renegade row (basically an advanced plank) etc etc.

  • martial arts, boxing, judo, bjj, basketball, field events, etc etc...
    – JohnP
    Commented Mar 29, 2019 at 16:53

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