When you think of ab exercises, the first one that usually comes to mind is the situp. While the situp is OK when performed properly, there's other options that place less strain on the neck, spine, and lower back, especially for people who spend countless hours sitting or working at a computer. "Spinal flexion," which basically means you sit in a hunched crunched position for too long, is similar to a situp, and over time, can cause numerous problems including poor posture, pain, and decreased performance.
Instead of doing situps give these three exercises a try:
Single-arm Weighted Carries
Pushup Hold Walkouts
For demonstrations and instructions go to page two.
1. Single-arm Weighted Carries
The single-arm weighted carry is a go-to exercise, every workout. It's very simple to perform and very beneficial in many ways. Simply grab a weight in one hand and start walking.
Some tips to quality weighted carries are:
1. Maintain good posture. Chest up, eyes up, and shoulders back. Be sure to not hunch or round the shoulders or upper back.
2. Brace Your Core. To do this, flex your core like someone is going to punch you in the stomach. This immediately will give you the feeling of creating a brace.
3. Make a fist with your free hand. This will create more full body tension, which will make this more of a full-body exercise.
Weighted single-arm carries can be done with dumbbells, kettlebells, standard barbells, and more.
2. Pushup Hold Walkouts
This is a simple yet effective core exercise that requires no equipment that will turn your abs to bricks.
1. Start in a pushup position with your hands under your shoulders.
2. Brace your core like you're going to get punched and squeeze your glutes as hard as possible.
3. From here start walking your hands upward, one at a time past your head. Keep walking your hands up slowly and controlled.
4. Your core will immediately brace and you'll feel your midsection lock down.
5. Hold the walk-out position for 3-5 seconds, walk your hands back to pushup, position, and repeat.
Always be sure to keep your core locked and maintain a strong, neutral spine.
3. Side Plank
Planks and side planks are a great exercise for core strength, improving hip issues, and helping people with lower-back pain. The side plank especially is a low-risk, high-benefit exercise.
To do a side plank:
1. Lie on your side. Put your top leg directly in front of your bottom leg. The heel of your top foot should be in line with tips of your toes of the bottom foot.
2. Take the elbow of the side you're lying on and prop yourself on your elbow with your elbow and shoulder stacked in a straight line.
3. From here rise up the hip that is on the ground and maintain a good neutral spine and brace hard.
4. Hold this position for as long as possible without losing form. Rest and repeat as necessary.