Workout Routines

The better abs workout program

Use these workouts to rip up your midsection without tearing up your lower back.

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The better abs workout routine
iStock
iStock
Duration 20-30
Exercises 3
Equipment Yes

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.

Day I Train your abs without bending forward or backward

Exercise 1A.

Ab Rollout You'll need: Ab Wheel How to
Ab Rollout thumbnail
3 sets
12-15 reps
0 sec. rest

Exercise 1B.

Swiss Ball Stir the Pot You'll need: Swiss Ball How to
Swiss Ball Stir the Pot thumbnail
3 sets
Repeat for 45 sec. reps
0 sec. rest

Exercise 1C.

Alligator Crawl You'll need: Sliding Discs How to
Alligator Crawl thumbnail
3 sets
Crawl for 45 sec. reps
60-90 sec. rest

Day II Train your abs without bending side to side

Exercise 1A.

Half-Kneeling Single-Arm Overhead Press You'll need: Dumbbells How to
Half-Kneeling Single-Arm Overhead Press thumbnail
3 sets
12-15 (each side) reps
0 sec. rest

Exercise 1B.

Side Plank You'll need: Medicine Ball How to
Side Plank thumbnail
3 sets
Hold for 45 sec. (each side) reps
0 sec. rest

Exercise 1C.

Overhead Pallof Press You'll need: D-Handle Attachment How to
exercise image placeholder
3 sets
12-15 (each side) reps
60-90 sec. rest

Day III Train your abs without twisting

Exercise 1A.

Pallof Press You'll need: Elastic Band How to
Pallof Press thumbnail
3 sets
12-15 (each side) reps
0 sec. rest

Exercise 1B.

Single-Arm, Half-Supported Bench Press You'll need: Dumbbells How to
Single-Arm, Half-Supported Bench Press thumbnail
3 sets
12-15 (each side) reps
0 sec. rest

Exercise 1C.

Lateral Crawl You'll need: No Equipment How to
Lateral Crawl thumbnail
3 sets
12-15 (each side) reps
60-90 sec. rest
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