No part of the body has been examined, marketed, debated, and otherwise obsessed over more than the abdominals. Pick any fitness debate regarding lifting, nutrition, cardio, or recovery and you’ll find people arguing about how to get six-pack abs.

Therein lies the catch-22 about core training: The more you focus on abs, the tougher they are to produce. But when you approach training your core from the broader perspective of dialing in your nutrition and undergoing an integrated program that builds pillar strength across the hips, shoulders, and midsection, they tend to appear unannounced.

So rather than fight the losing battle of crunches, situps, and other ab-specific movements, here are seven ab moves to avoid and seven alternatives that will produce core strength and, when combined with a focused diet, the fitness holy grail of six-pack abs.

Pete Williams is a NASM certified personal trainer and the author or co-author of a number of books on performance and training.

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