SIX PACK ABS – WITHOUT BACK PAIN! The Best Exercises to Strengthen the Abdominal Muscles Without Causing Back Pain
Part 2 of 2
It may not be possible to pick up a health and fitness magazine without a plethora of articles on how to gain “six-pack abs!” However, for most people, before you begin your quest to find the “abdominal holy grail,” you need to be aware of the many fallacies related to abdominal exercises and how to get a flat stomach.
First, you cannot reduce fat in a specific part of the body over another. If you have belly fat, you must lose overall body weight in order to allow the underlying muscles to become more visible. If you lose 10 to 15 pounds, it is lost in all parts of the body that have excessive fat, not one area more than another. Second, performing 100 sit up exercises will not guarantee washboard abs. More often than not, those able to perform 100 sit ups are already in excellent physical condition. Furthermore, people often use poor technique and substitute muscles other than the abdominals such as the hip flexors, when performing 100 sit-ups. Most importantly, performing too many traditional “sit-up” exercises may actually be lead to lower back pain.
Last week we discussed Level I Abdominal Exercises For Beginners and Level II Abdominal Exercises for the Moderately Fit. This week’s column provides abdominal exercises for Level III- Excellent Physical Condition (high fitness level).
LEVEL THREE – 6 Abd Exercises for a High Fitness Level
- Abdominal Curl - Advanced (photo 1b): Position same as in basic abd curl. While holding the abs tight, slowly curl your upper body and lift shoulder blades up 4 inches and curl chest toward knees. Hold for 3-5 seconds and lower slowly. Repeat 5-10 times.
- Exercise Ball Hip Hikes (photo 1b): While sitting on an exercise ball, hike your hip and knee up to 90 degrees as if you are marching. Hold the position for 3-5 seconds on one leg and lower slowly. Repeat this on the other leg and alternate 10 times. Stabilize your core and do not let your trunk tilt
- Ball Planks (photo 3b):Using a Bosu Ball or Ther Ex Ball, prop up on forearms in a push-up position. Hold the position as a firm plank for 10-20-30 seconds. Advance to 60-90 seconds.
- Ball Plank – Ladder Climb or Scissor Kicks (photo 4b): Using a Bosu Ball or Ther Ex Ball assume same on forearms as above. Perform a ladder climb by hiking your hip slowly. Return to starting position and repeat on other leg. Once mastered, attempt a scissor kick motion by spreading your leg out 30 degrees to the side. Hold the position for 3-5 seconds on one leg and return slowly to cross over the middle. Repeat this on the other leg and alternate 10 times. Maintain a firm core without tilting the body during both of these exercises.
- Bicep Curls on Ball with Hip Hike (Photo 5b): Sit on exercise ball with ONE foot on the floor holding exercise band and the other foot 4-6 inches hiked up off floor. Hold band in both hands, tighten abd muscles and slowly bend elbows up toward shoulders. Lower slowly and switch foot to hold band on floor after 5 – 10 repetitions. Focus on trunk core stabilization while performing this exercise by keeping trunk stable. Eventually, this can be performed standing on a Bosu ball with two feet, then advance to one leg. If possible, perform in front of a mirror for feedback.
- Trunk Rows/Lats on Ball with Hip Hike (Photo 6b): Sit on exercise ball with ONE foot on the floor and the other foot 4-6 inches hiked up off floor. Attach exercise band to inside door knob and hold in both hands. Tighten abd muscles, pinch shoulder blades together and performing a “row the boat” movement. Return slowly and switch feet after 5-10 repetions. Focus on trunk core stabilization while performing this exercise by keeping trunk stable. Eventually, this can be performed standing on a Bosu ball with two feet, then advance to one leg. If possible, perform in front of a mirror for feedback.
Level 3 Abdominal Curl (Photo 1b)
Level 3 Exercise Ball Hip Hike (Photo 2b)
Level 3 Bosu Plank (Photo 3b)
Level 3: Plank Ladder Climb(Photo 4b)
Level 3 Bicep Curl on Ball With Hip Hike (Photo 5b)
Photos: Jen Hnatko Model: Samantha Snead
NEXT MONDAY – Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum” in the Scranton Times-Tribune.
This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at The Commonwealth Medial College.