Working Abs with a Bad Back


There is nothing more debilitating than a painful back, and crippling pain from herniated disc tops the list. Working the abs is how we fix a bad back. Seems contradictory, but it isn’t.

However, the glitch is what a trainer might recommend you do to strengthen your back. The other day I heard a trainer recommend planks. In my humble opinion a plank is a 300 level exercise. Something a client/individual does when they are already strong and in control of their muscles to perform the exercise with precision. The last thing someone with a bad back needs is to try a plank.

Back Exercise 101

This is a 100 level exercise. It’s the prerequisite to harder work. Just as in school you would never be allowed to take a 300 level course without having done the ground work. The same needs to be true for exercise.

Using a straight leg causes some clients stress in the hip flexor. This form based on the McGill recommendation kept that form happening. Driving through the foot on the floor helped to employ the muscles. Thanks to Dianne Hagan

Those of you who have followed my articles and training for a while understand my approach. The McGills* — as I like to call them — is where everybody starts. The video mentioned below will familiarize you with the concept of working abs without working the spine.

Pictures here are taken with clients from St. Charles Missouri, Main Street Gym. Many of them trained with me for 5-9 years. None ever suffered back issues prior to our training and still are injury and pain-free. Building on the work of McGill I’ve augmented some of the exercises to include other muscles in the trunk of the body.

Bracing the Abdominal complex while squeezing buttocks and inner thigh works the entire matrix.

Bracing the Abdominal complex while squeezing buttocks and inner thigh works the entire matrix.

Remember it’s about control. Breathing air out so there isn’t a pocket in your pooch. Tightening each muscle — and eventually you will be able to employ the muscles in both the upper and lower aspect of the abdominal complex. It’s finesse! Take the time. Don’t go for quantity — go for quality of exercise. Save that Back!

Stir the Pot. I still consider this a 200 or 300 level exercise.  Thank you Liz Chamberlain.

Stir the Pot. I still consider this a 200 or 300 level exercise. Thank you Liz Chamberlain.

Be Well!

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Exercises named after Stuart McGill from Waterloo University. See explanation here. 

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