A flat stomach is the ultimate goal for many gym-goers. Walk into any gym in the country, and there is sure to be someone on their back doing crunches or holding a dumbbell while they side bend – all in pursuit of tight, toned abs.
Unfortunately, a lot of the traditional abdominal exercises are based on outdated training programs that work your core in an isolated way.
While workouts, such as crunches and side bends, target the abdominals, they can also work your spine improperly and lead to issues with your lower back.
If you want to train the core in a way that improves your tummy without causing back problems, you need to engage in exercises that get the whole body moving while the spine remains stable.
Try these moves to improve your body’s ability to prevent the spine from bending backwards, flexing to the side and rotating. These simple tweaks will save your back and boost your flat belly regimen.
1. HIGH PLANK WITH LATERAL FLEXION
Begin in a high plank position ensuring you keep your back flat. Focus the weight on your toes and your hands and keep your head still.
Shift your hips from left to right for 30 seconds, making sure all the movement is coming from your hips. Work your way up to 60 seconds over time.
2. KNEELING PALLOF PRESS
Kneel on both knees with a tall spine positioned side-on to a cable column or resistance band. Make sure the cable/band is positioned level with your mid-section, with your hands held into your torso, and that there is some tension on the band.
After holding it in this start position, slowly press the band/cable forwards, away from your middle. As you push it away, make sure you maintain a vertical spine.
The only movement should be in your arms – not your torso – and once you’ve extended them, slowly return to the start position, holding the band/cable level with your mid-section.
Repeat this 15 times and then do the same on the opposite side.
3. BODY SAW ON THE GRID
Begin by placing both shins on top of a Trigger Point Performance Grid foam roller (or any large tin), and position your body in a prone plank on your elbows.
Engage your core and slowly push the body back, using just your elbows and shoulders to create the movement. The grid should slowly travel up the shin towards the knee.
Keep the core tight, don’t let your hips sag towards the ground, and begin with a small range of motion.
Now pull the body forwards using your shoulders and elbows to return to the start position, ensuring you keep your body in a straight line throughout. Start very slowly with this exercise, moving back and forth to create a ‘sawing’ gesture.