In daily life, you rarely find yourself crunching up off the floor to do, well, much of anything. And according to Chris Kolba, Ph.D., CSCS, physical therapist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, vertical training is a better route to a strong, toned core than crunching.

“In most activities, the body is primarily in an upright position with various components of vertical, horizontal and rotational movement acting against gravity,” Kolba says. “Therefore, training the core in an upright position is a better choice to facilitate muscle, joint and balance receptor activity.” Training your core functionally also means better overall performance as well as killer definition in your obliques and six-pack.

Do each move for three to four sets of 12 to 15 repetitions, together as in the sample routine, or scattered throughout your training week. Beginning athletes can perform them with both feet on the ground and/or without weight, while more advanced athletes can do the moves as prescribed. “The movements are meant to be small and controlled in nature,” Kolba says. “The size of the medicine ball varies depending on the ability of the person, so start lighter and work your way up.”