Caution! Ab exercises can be very dangerous for your lower back!
If you have a history of lower back pain or have not developed proper core endurance then it is best to avoid the traditional sit-ups and related ab exercises (ie. leg lifts, crunches, etc…).
The reason is that these “old school”, “flexion-type” ab exercises impose a great deal of stress on your lower back. Any abdominal exercise that involves flexion of the hips and heavily activates the abdominal muscles will also usually produce a greater amount of pull (or strain) on the lower spine.
Instead, you want to focus your ab workouts on endurance exercises that keep your spine in a neutral position. In so doing, you will lessen the strain on your back while greatly developing the deeper abdominal muscles such as the tranverse abdominus and internal/external obliques.
So put away those gimmicky ab machines and shopping channel products and add the following 3 ab exercises into your routine.
This is an unbelievable ab exercise that does not impose a great deal of stress on your spine. For beginners, do this movement on the floor. If you are more advanced I suggest giving this a go on a BOSU (as shown in picture).
Here’s how to do the dead bug:
1. Lie on your back and bring your knees up to your chest.
2. Place straightened arms towards the sky so that they are perpendicular to your body.
3. Maintain a neutral spine and brace your abs and, in a slow and controlled motion, extend your left leg toward the floor, straightening it while at the same time extending your opposite arm (right arm) behind your head so that it is now parallel to the floor. Ensure that the non-working arm and leg are stationary. Hold this position for 2-3 seconds and then switch sides. Aim for 12 to 20 reps depending on your abdominal and core endurance.
The side plank is another fantastic static exercise for strengthening the abdominals, back and shoulders. Isometric strength is important for stabilizing the trunk in various sports and exercises. When you are doing the side plank (as with all exercises in general), make sure to perform your “abdominal brace” by lightly contracting your abdominals and drawing in your belly button (like putting on a type pair of pants). This stabilizes the spine and pelvis and ensures proper form at all time.
Here’s how to do the side plank:
1. Lying on your side with your feet stacked, place one forearm underneath your shoulder and perpendicular to your body.
2. Lift your body off the ground and balance on the one supporting forearm and the side of your feet. Remember your abdominal brace. Hold this position for as long as you can (ideally more than 30 seconds) and then switch sides.
The plank is a fundamental core exercise that helps to build endurance in both the abs and back, as well as stabilizer muscles. Here’s how to do it:
1. Lie face down on mat resting on the forearms, palms flat on the floor.
2. Brace your abs by gently drawing in your belly button and tensing your abdominal muscles (this “abdominal brace”) is maintained throughout the entire exercise.
3. Push off the floor, raising up onto toes and resting on the elbows.
4. Keep your back flat, in a straight line from head to heels. Tilting your pelvis (ie. tucking your tail bone under) can help with this.
5. Hold for as long as possible. The goal is to build up to holding the plank for more than 1 more with good form.
The Ab Workout That Nearly Killed Me
Keywords: abdominal exercises, ab, abs, workout, workouts, crunches, sit-ups, obliques, transverse abdominis, plank, side plank, six pack, yuri elkaim, 6-pack, belly fat, flat stomach
Wow, my abs are still sore! The other day I took myself through an incredible ab workout that has still left its mark – a full 3 days after the fact!
I was actually using myself as a guinea for one of the new ab workouts I was putting together for the men’s soccer team at the University of Toronto. Whether you’re an athlete or couch potato who wants a stronger core or in search of the almighty six pack, ab workouts are essential to your progress.
But it should be remembered that we’re talking about doing sit-ups and traditional ab exercises that impose huge amounts of stress on your lower back. Nope. Instead, what you’re about to experience is a core workout that targets all aspects of your abdominals and core muscles.
You will be training your rectus abdominis (the six pack abs), your deeper core muscles like your obliques, transverse abdominis, and quadratus lumborum, and your spinal stabilizers.
After all, what good is having a good looking six pack if you have a weak core and low back pain?
This ab workout will help you shred your abs while, at the same time, strengthening your important deep core muscles. The result – a rock solid core. Honestly, with time, you will be able to withstand any blow to your abdominal region as your core will be solid enough to handle it.
Now on to Your Stomach Flattening AbWorkout…
There are 8 abdominal exercises which will be set up in a circuit training workout. Each exercise will last 30 seconds and there will NO REST between each exercise. Once you’ve completed the entire 8-exercise set, you can then rest for 2 minutes. This will then be repeated for a total of 3 sets.
You will need a stability ball, BOSU ball, and a chin up bar for this workout.
1. Stability Ball Roll-outs
2. L Pull-ups (these are hardcore pull-ups with your legs parallel to the floor as you pull yourself up)
3. Side Bridge with Leg Lift (30 seconds on each side)
4. BOSU Ball V-Sits
5. BOSU Ball Isometric Back Extension Hold
6. Stability Ball Hamstring Roll-ins
7. Stability Ball Deadbug
8. 3-Pt Back Extensor Drill
Give these core crunching exercises a shot and I apologize in advance for the burn and soreness you will be feeling afterwards! This is truly the ab workout that nearly killed me…and now you!