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SHEHULK86 Posts: 9,758
4/5/14 5:13 P

I have been alternating between these two workouts, with daily planking as well:

BITHOO SparkPoints: (12,355)
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Posts: 423
4/5/14 7:47 A

re the lower back, I don't typically have any back trouble -- but things like the "V seat" and many of the ab exercises hurt a lot... it's weird, because I can do the entire weights/cardio thing with no trouble at all. I think I will take advice from both of you: doing more of the planks and the "superman" and ALSO go to a gym!

ZURICHMAN SparkPoints: (1,775)
Fitness Minutes: (1,919)
Posts: 363
4/4/14 7:41 P

It's tough to give you a recommendation as you say you have some lower back pains. I would suggest going to a trainer like Planet Fitness and get them to give you a plan.

GZELLEFRO SparkPoints: (88,923)
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Posts: 4,930
4/4/14 4:58 P

You can start in a lower level of planks and build up your strength and then progressively add to them. For example, you can start out with planks on your elbows and knees. Just make sure that you don't arch or round your back. Try to keep it flat, with your neck in line with your back.

Another exercise you can do that doesn't put a lot of stress on your back are Supermans. Lie on your stomach with your hands straight overhead in line with your shoulders and your legs straight out from your body. Raise your right hand off the floor about 1/4-1/2", and the opposite leg (left leg) off the floor 1/4-1/2" at the same time. Hold for 5 seconds and then reverse to the other side. Do 3 sets of 8-10 on each side. You should have your face downwards. Also, if this is too much, you can bend your elbows and put your chin on your hands. Raise your head & hands slightly, keeping your feet on the floor. When you can do 3 sets of 8-10, try raising your feet at the same time, just 1/4-1/2" It's not necessary to lift them high off the floor. Exhale on the lift part of the exercise. Hope this helps.

Here is a link to a site that shows how to do the supermans. It's quite a long link.

BITHOO SparkPoints: (12,355)
Fitness Minutes: (3,359)
Posts: 423
4/4/14 1:18 P

Great topic - hope it's okay if I add my own question!

I have some issues with vertigo, so find mat exercises, yoga, and pilates make me feel sick. I have been doing intervals, dance aerobics, and kickboxing, but all three end with 15 minutes of mat exercises.

I have come up with a few substitutions (reverse crunches instead of up/down crunches, for instance), but here's the issue. I can keep up with cardio and strength just fine, but when we're doing ANY ab stuff (table top legs, V-seat, etc.) I find that my back REALLY hurts, and I have to quit. Planks seem to be absolutely beyond me: 10 seconds and I cave.

There's nothing wrong with my back so far as I know. And in general I'm in medium-good shape (I walk, do a little tap dancing, am pretty strong and healthy) though I'm 54 so not young.

I'm thinking the problem MAY be just lack of core strength, so I'd need to build it up... or maybe it's all about form? Or maybe the exercises are hard on the back? I'm not involved with a gym per se, though I could join one...


RUSSELL_40 Posts: 16,826
4/4/14 1:02 P

Important point there. The abs, and back are connected. You want to work the torso. We tend to work the upper back, and focus on abs, but never the sides, or the lower back.

If the back pain is not from an injury, I would recommend that you do some light lower back exercises. I did deadlifts, and slowly built up my lower back, and the back pain went away.

As far as sit-ups, I don't think anyone has recommended those in a Crunches maybe, and those should involve the back. Some people find the ab machines are better till their back heals. The other part everyone neglects though is the lower abs. What happens is that you get 4 abs up top, and a paunch at the bottom. Knee raises can work this area. Start on a bench, at 45 degrees, and build till you can hold yourself up, and lift the knees to your chest. Anything that lifts legs up, works the lower abs. The whole area is worked, but you can target one section more. So you want to do lower, and upper abs.

With all that, and there are many variations, so which exercises you choose doesn't matter. Nothing you do, will matter until you get the layer of fat off the abs. This is done by losing weight. Eat enough protein, and that will be mostly fat. If you are unlucky like me, the belly will be the LAST place you lose. The order of how you gain or lose fat is set by genetics. I have skinny arms, and legs, and a chubby face, and gut.

So reduce the fat with diet, and do some lower back, abs, and maybe side bends to work the torso and build muscle. Just remember that those muscles won't ever be huge, so don't expect to see much as long as you are overweight. You won't ever build up the abs so much, that they will appear through a think layer of fat.

Last of all, I would focus mostly on diet and cardio for now, if the goal is to see your abs, and get the back feeling better. Losing weight will do more to make the back pain go away, as well as get you to where you can see the abs. This means proper calories in, more calories out. I am not suggesting that you shouldn't lift weights, but maybe focus on larger muscle groups, and the extra muscle will increase your metabolism. You can add a lot of muscle to your Back, and Quadriceps, but not much to the abs. Plus, once you get rid of the fat, and can see your abs, you will find, that you can get a 6 pack quite quickly. You may have world class abs right now, but can't tell because of the layer of fat. That doesn't mean that the abs aren't developed, since you can get them in shape quickly. Most likely, if you have been working abs for over 3 months, they would look fine, if the fat was gone.

GZELLEFRO SparkPoints: (88,923)
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4/3/14 7:55 P

Traditional core exercises aren't really necessary to strengthen your abs. Fighting flab takes more than just doing crunches. You have to do aerobic activity as well as strength training.

Your abs are made up of several parts: the upper abs, the obliques (internal and external), and the middle and lower abs, to name a few.

You can work your core by doing exercises other than crunches. Using a stability ball instead of standing on two feet by balancing on one leg, with the other leg on the stability ball, will work your core. The stability ball is a wonderful tool to use to help strengthen your core.

It's also a good idea to incorporate planks into your workout program. Supermans are good for strengthening the back as well.

If your abs are weak, it will cause your back to be weak as well. Try to work on both of these. There are great exercises on this site that will help you. Here's a link to a 7 min workout to help with belly flab.

Hope this helps. Hugs

DRAGONCHILDE SparkPoints: (61,458)
Fitness Minutes: (15,905)
Posts: 9,717
4/3/14 7:33 P

There are a number of exercises for strengthening your core, but none of them will target your stomach for fat loss. Fat loss is a total body process; your muscles draw their energy from the blood stream, not the surrounding fat stores.

LUANN_IN_PA Posts: 26,702
4/2/14 5:51 P

"Recommendations please on exercises to help lose my tummy and strengthen the abs."

Planks are great to build the abs... but no exercise will target your tummy.

LEC358 SparkPoints: (11,135)
Fitness Minutes: (6,555)
Posts: 2,744
4/2/14 4:05 P

Planks work the entire core.

4/2/14 3:43 P

I have lower back pain also. I find I am able to do standing abs work and some stability ball abs work. Also coach Nicole has a seated abs workout video here on sparkpeople.
Keep in mind though that while you can strengthen your abs, you cannot tell your body where to lose the fat from first. Weight loss is different for everyone and sometimes the first place we want to lose the weight is the last place we will lose it.

JAM2DREW Posts: 14,740
4/2/14 3:26 P

Recommendations please on exercises to help lose my tummy and strengthen the abs. I find it difficult to do sit ups due to my lower back pain.

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