We sit too much—at our desks, in our cars, in front of the TV. And when we train our abs, we reinforce that posture with situps and crunches that contribute to tight hips and a rounded lower back. Over time, this can lead to lower-back pain and even conditions like a bulging or herniated disk.

But you want abs, dammit, so you’ll take your chances, right?

Fortunately, you don’t have to choose vanity at the cost of health, or vice versa. If you train your abs to resist bending and twisting, rather than perform them actively, you can develop a six-pack without a trip to the chiropractor.

How it works

While your abs work to bend the torso and hips, as in many different situp variations, you can activate even more core musculature by resisting those motions. Think of setting up your body so it wants to collapse in one direction or the other, but your core forces it to hold steady.

We’ve come up with three different workouts: one that trains you to avoid bending your spine forward and back; one that makes you avoid lateral bending; and one that has you fight twisting in any direction. Tack on one at a time to the end of the workouts you already do, and repeat whichever one you find the most challenging more often. We don’t expect you to stop sitting, but you owe it to yourself to stay healthy—and get a six-pack.

Directions

Perform one workout (Day I, II, or III) as a finisher to whatever workouts you’re currently doing. Complete the exercises as a circuit. So you’ll do one set of 1A, then 1B, and then 1C, resting as little as possible between each. Afterward, rest 60 to 90 seconds and repeat for three total circuits.