You all know I’m a firm believer that regular exercise is a critical component to a healthy lifestyle. However, when I see someone performing an exercise with incorrect form or poor posture, I get nervous. Correct exercise form is critical to avoid injury and to ensure you get the maximum benefit from the movement you’re performing. Incorrect ab exercise form poses an increased risk, because it can put unwanted strain on your low back, an area you don’t want to be straining. I’ve outlined below, the correct ab exercise form for 3 of the fitness moves I’ve found people usually have problems with.
Correct Ab Exercise Form
Here are 3 abdominal exercises I often see people perform incorrectly.
1. Abs Under Pressure
Purpose & why do it. When done correctly, this exercise strengthens your deep transverse abdominal muscles (TVA) better than any other fitness move I’ve come across. Despite the fact that the TVA muscles are deep supporting muscles that are used during heavy lifting, they are often forgotten. Performing this exercise regularly, will help keep them engaged and strong.
Here’s the ab exercise form you should be following for ‘Abs Under Pressure’:
Common ‘Abs Under Fire’ mistakes and fixes.
a) Not keeping your entire back firmly pressed into mat the whole time, causes your back muscles to kick in and become strained. To avoid making this mistake, ensure you never feel an arch in your back while performing it.
b) Not keeping your legs at a 90 degree angle will jeopardize some of the work you should benefit from in the exercise. Watch yourself in a mirror to ensure that your legs don’t move.
Purpose & why do them. Planks activate so many of our core muscles at once, including the rectus abdominus (“six-pack muscles”), TVA, obliques, glutes, hips and back. There are so many variations available, so they never get boring!
Here’s how to perform an advanced version of this abdominal exercise correctly:
Common plank mistakes and fixes.
a) Your butt comes up too high or sinks too low, causing you to arch your back. Keep your shoulders, hips and feet in a straight line, so that you stay straight as a board (hence the name ‘plank’). Focus on squeezing your abdominal muscles tightly the entire time to avoid putting strain on your low back.
b) You collapse your upper body, letting your shoulder blades squeeze together and your elbows flail out past your shoulders. Engage and push firmly into the ground with your upper back muscles during the hold.
c) You don’t activate your legs & butt. Squeeze your glutes, and activate your quads during a plank by digging your feet firmly into the ground.
Purpose & why do them. Sit-ups often get a lot of flack. Part of the reason why, is because they work your back, in addition to your abdominal muscles. If you’re strong enough, and performing them correctly, I encourage you to keep doing them.
Here’s how to perform a slight variation to the sit-up, correctly:
Common sit-up mistakes and fixes.
a) You put too much strain on your neck. If you feel neck strain, position your arms in front of you and think about relaxing your neck muscles. You should never be pulling on your neck.
b) You strain your hip flexors. When you don’t contract your abdominal muscles enough, or when they become tired, your hip flexors kick in. Pay attention to this, and if your legs do kick in more than your abs, stop the exercise.
c) Lack of control. You should perform sit-ups slowly, moving through as much range of motion that you can, while feeling most of the work in your abs, not your low back or legs. Start from a sitting position, and make sure you lower down in a controlled way that doesn’t hurt your back.
To Sum it up…Ab Exercise Form
In order to avoid injury, it’s important to execute exercises with correct form. Incorrect form during abdominal exercises is particularly risky, because these moves can often put unwanted strain on your low back. This is an area you don’t want to play around with. Highlighted above, is the correct exercise form for 3 abdominal moves I’ve commonly found people have challenges with. Please let me know if you have any questions.