9 Unpopular Ab Exercises That Don’t Cause Lower Back Pain

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Do you suffer from lower back pain during or post ab exercises?

Try the exercises listed below to strengthen and develop the abdominal muscles without hurting your back.

These 9 unusual ab exercises that don’t cause lower back pain have helped to my and other personal trainers clients to prevent and relieve low back pain for good.

Not every exercise on this list may suit everyone though. Try all of them to find the ones that work for you.

If you suffer from serious spinal problems or acute back pain episodes, consult a physician first.

Before we dig in, a quick reminder for those who struggle getting rid of belly fat that is covering those abs: No matter how much of ab training you do, you won’t get visible abs until you fix your nutrition.


McGill Curl Up Exercise Demonstration

McGill Curl Up is one the undeservedly unpopular ab exercises that can help to prevent and even relieve lower back pain.

This exercise is widely popularized by the world’s top spinal researcher Stuart McGill. Although this exercise may seem similair to a regular crunch at first, the critical nuances make all the difference.

This variation of the exercise helps to protect the spine from rounding and flexing. It minimizes the chance of running into the lower back pain. So you can focus on strengthening the abdominals without damaging the spine.

How to do Mc Gill Curl Up


Dead Bug Exercise

Dead Bug is another lower back discreet ab exercise that deserves a spot on a pedestal. This exercise allows to strengthen weak abdominals while minimizing the pressure on the spine if done correctly.

This exercise can help to improve the overextended posture or excessive anterior pelvic tilt that can be a root of extension based back pain.

There are various progressions of the exercise to fit any fitness level. Use this exercise to strengthen your abs and favour the proper posture.

How to do Dead Bug


Incline Crunches on a Bench

This unfamiliar variation of a crunch can help to avoid running into lower back pain while crunching. And can save the lower back from serious injuries.

The proper setting of incline crunches provides a perfect enviroment to start strengthening and developing weak abdominal muscles. Incline crunches reduces the load and helps to bypass the pull on the vertebrae. So less possibility hurting the spine.

How to do Incline Crunches


Janda Sit-Up Ab Exercise

Any sit-up will work your abs, but you usually hit them with an assistance from hip flexors. The muscles that are attached to the spine. The weaker the abs, the more hip flexors are activated. Once they contribute too much and get too tight, they start pulling vertebrae and cause back pain.

Janda sit-up is a lower back friendly sit-up variation invented by Czechoslovakian exercise physiologist Vladimir Janda.

This ab exercise, if done properly, helps to deactivate the hip flexors during the movement. That allows the abs to dominate the exercise. As a result you can strengthen abdominal muscles without getting your lower back sore.

How to do Janda Sit-Up


exercise ball crunches demonstration

Exercise or fitness balls are more than just fun to sit and bounce on. They’re a great way to improve abdominal strength and core stability while avoiding lower back pain doing so.

Exercise ball supports the natural curve of the lower back and reduces the load on the lumbar spine if placed appropriately. As a result there is reduced likelihood of straining and hurting your lower back.

There is a study that shows that this exercise is not only safer for the spine but it appears to be 139% more effective than the regular crunch as well.

How to do Exercise Ball Crunch


Plank exercise with one knee bent

Experiencing lower back pain during planks is not normal. Especially if the pain occurs from the beginning.

Most often it indicates to the incorrect form or not enough strong abdominal muscles to perform the exercise. Either way it facilitates the development of the improper posture and can cause the damage of the spine.

To reduce the pressure on the lumbar spine when planking try bending the knee. Plank variation with one knee bent helps to take the strain of the lumbar spine and puts more tension on the abdominal muscles. That helps to properly strengthen the abs without getting lower back sore too soon.

How to do Plank With One Knee Bent


Bench Plank With Knees Bent

Bench plank with knees bent is a great ab exercise for those who feel it more in their back not abs when performing regular planks on the floor.

The incline position reduces the overall load on the working muscles. And bending the knees helps to remove a strain of the hip flexors which really helps to turn those abdominal muscles on so they can fatigue before the lower back does.

This variation is particularly great for people who also tend to feel planks more in their shoulders than in the abs.

How To Do Bench Plank With Knees Bent


Raised Leg Crunches

Raised leg crunches are more superior and lower back friendly variation of the regular crunches. Use this exercise to develope a proper strength in your upper abdominals while minimizing the risk of proviking a lower back pain.

Raised leg position helps to deactivate hip flexors and keeps your lower back flat against the floor. There are no flexion or extension happening in your lumbar spine if the exercise is done correctly. This way your abs are forced to do all the work. It adds intensity to the abdominal muscles and fatigues them before you start feeling a discomfort in your lower back.

How To Do Raised Leg Crunches


Bent Knee TRX Fall-Outs

Bent knee TRX fall-outs is a bit of a progression from the other exercises on this list, but works equally well.

As in the previous exercises, with knees bent, your hip flexors are not able to apply the same stress on the lower back. Knee bending minimizes the strain on the lower back and lets abs to do the most of the work. This setting helps to get the abs sore before the low-back does.

Use this exercise to strengthen your abdominal muscles without hurting your lower back. If you have an access to any suspension system such as TRX or any other, give this exercise a try.

How To Do Bent Knee TRX Fall-Outs

Before You Go…

If you are looking for an entire abs workout where these back pain free ab exercises are put into action, check this abs workout without without lower back pain.

Also, please leave a comment below if you find this post useful or you want to share your experience or just say Hi. I would love to hear form you!


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About Matiss Bartulis

Sweets and pizza addict. Online and real-life fitness coach. Author of the "From Fat To Six Pack" E-mail training course. You can find him on Google+ and Facebook.

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