As the title of this piece indicates, I am no fitness expert. I am strictly an amateur, struggling along like so many others with my little exercise DVDs, etc. I love to read articles by trainers and other fitness experts. But sometimes I think non-experts have points to make, too. I am hoping that is the case with this article.
Anyhow, I actually have started to enjoy exercising, but I do like to "mix things up" to prevent boredom. For me, abdominal workouts can become particularly dull (what with all those darn crunches.) I mean, is there a more boring form of exercise on the planet? If there is, I have yet to find it.
One thing I like to do to add some variety to ab workouts is do "standing ab" routines. There are several decent ones on the market, and the main thing that they all seem to have in common is that they all tend to aerobicize (if that is even a word) the ab workout. In other words, all of these non-crunch based ab workouts seem to work a lot of dance/cardio into the ab workout (albeit with a constant focus on training one's core). These are fun, typically, especially if you like dancing and upbeat music. They are usually not too difficult from a choreographic perspective. And what's nice is that you can find them in the "short and sweet" ten minute variety or in the long and exhausting hour variety (and just about any length in between).
Another way to add some variety to ab workouts is to incorporate an ab wheel. I purchased one about a month ago. (They are not very expensive.) And I have to say they are very intense. You really want to watch your form so that when you do them you don't hurt your abs or your lower back. The key is that you don't want to arch your back, because that way you will (potentially) overextend it.
I advise you to watch some videos on YouTube of fitness experts who are doing it correctly and can show you the contrast between good form and bad form. These videos are very helpful and may even end up saving your back. I have do tell you, when you do it correctly, you really, really feel it all through your upper and lower abs, your obliques and your back muscles. It is a very intense (but good) feeling and you will want to start with a small number of reps and build from there.