CRUNCHING, CHURNING, ROTATING, and splitting your way to better abs might not be the best path. According to research out of the University of South Florida and published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, it’s free-weight exercises that stand king and develop the kind of abs you want.

“Numerous exercises, devices, and training approaches claim to activate the core muscles,” says study author Jason Martuscello, “but in reality our research contradicts much of this marketing.”

“The complexity of free-weight exercises exceeds floor-based situps and core-stabilization exercises, which raises concern for injury,” says Martuscello. “Although the level of risk is elevated, this should not discourage free-weight use. Like anything else in life: big risk, big reward. However, that doesn’t mean we bet our life savings. The beauty of free-weight exercises is that they can be progressively loaded to accommodate proper technique.”

You heard it here: Quit the constant situps and start getting heavy.