As mentioned in my e-book (which you can get for FREE HERE for the month of April!), it is vital to train across your whole body. One of the most commonly neglected areas is the core, which mostly includes your entire abdominal section (abs) and lower back to glutes (butt) section.
Today, I want to bring your attention to two common core exercise mistakes while training your abs.
Mistake #1 – Using your neck to do your ab workouts
Ever finish an ab workout and your neck is more tired and sore than your stomach and abs? Me too. This occurs because your core is weak and you are compensating by straining your neck to do core exercises. Some common exercises would be sit-ups, crunches, and other similar motion ab exercises that target the upper part of your abs.
You may often try to do sit-ups or crunches quickly or try to finish a certain number of repetitions prescribed in a workout routine. But typically, what I see is people flexing and straining their neck (with the neck curved forward) as they try to lift their upper body to do the sit-up or crunch their stomach. No wonder your neck is more tired and sore than your stomach! Using your neck to do your ab workouts is not only ineffective, but dangerous and could injure you badly.
Mistake #2 – Using your legs to do your ab workouts
Ever do an ab workout and your legs start burning, especially around your hip section (your hip flexors)? This occurs once again because your core is weak. But this time, you are compensating by using your legs to do the exercises. Some common exercises would be leg raises, scissor kicks, flutter kicks, or other similar motion ab exercise where you lift and move your legs and target the lower part of your abs. Using your legs to do your ab workouts is likewise not only ineffective, but could also injure you.
Solution to Both Mistakes – Slow down, focus on form, begin movement with your abs
The solution to both mistakes is the same. You need to slow down and focus on your form. All movement for ab exercises need to begin with your abs (makes sense right?)
For sit-ups, you begin on your back with your legs bent and feet flat on the ground. Relax your neck. Keep a tall posture, as if a string were connected to the top of your head, keeping your head, neck, and back in one straight line. Then, squeeze your stomach as hard as you can, using your stomach muscles to lift your upper body off the ground to the top of the sit-up position. Finally, instead of letting gravity bring you back to the ground, keep squeezing your stomach and slowly bring your upper body back to the ground. Remember: your neck should be relaxed the whole time!
For leg raises, start by doing them flat on the ground (instead of hanging from a bar). Relax your legs. Drive your lower back in to the ground. Squeeze your stomach as hard as you can, using your stomach muscles to lift your legs off the ground to 90 degrees. And once again, instead of letting gravity bring your legs back to the ground with a loud thud, keep squeezing your stomach, keep your lower back glued to the ground, and slowly bring your legs back to the ground.
Let’s Pursue Fitness to Positively Impact Others!
Kevin Hsu, CPT & CTNC