Ask the typical gym goer for a demonstration of core exercises and you'll probably get a show full of crunches, sit-ups, butterflies, and leg lifts. Abdominal exercises are a dime a dozen and while they certainly have their place in training for men and women who enjoy lifting, core strength should be more focused on maintaining a neutral, stable spine than six pack abs.
Core stability is one of those fitness buzz words that has been tossed around for years but what does it mean to me? In technical terms, it means maintaing a tight core (and I mean your entire core: back, abs, obliques, pelvic floor, diaphragm) with a specific focus on anti-flexion, anti-extension, anti-rotation, and anti-lateral flexion. In other words, you're able to keep your spine in proper position throughout a movement while resisting arching your back, rounding your back, bending at the side or twisting. For lifters, keeping a strong, stable core while still moving via your hips, knees, shoulders is a crucial skill needed to prevent injury and help you lift more weight.
Because the goal is to keep your core from movement during a lift, training your core in this manner has many calling it, "anti-movment" core training. If you find yourself still using crunches as your go to core exercise I'd encourage you to give these a try. Start by adding a few sets of any of these movements below and keep your focus on maintain proper positioning throughout the move.
Dead Bug: You can also hold weights and/or straighten your legs to increase the difficulty of this move.
Palloff Press: Can also be used with bands and performed from your knees.
Ab Roll Out: Can also be performed in a similar manner with a stability ball in place of the dolly.
Kettlebell Suitcase Carry: Can also be performed with a dumbbell or barbell.
Your turn: Do you have a favorite core stability move?