The worst ab exercise you can do

With only 10 weeks left until Memorial Day weekend, many people have started to think about working out.  Maybe you’re planning to try the 30-day plank challenge to get your abs beach ready. There are so many workouts to choose from but how can you tell if they really work?

Ultimately, that answer depends on your goal.  If your goal of the 30-day plank challenge is to ease into a regular workout routine and it did just that, then it worked.  If your goal of the 30-day plank challenge is to get a six pack without changing your diet or other factors, then you need to rethink your plan of attack. 

But before you embark on a new challenge like this, make sure you’re physically up for the task, otherwise you could end up hurting yourself. It is estimated that 30 percent of all people stop going to the gym because they have begun to experience pain. If your abs are not strong enough to perform a plank then your body will recruit other muscles, like those in the lower back, and putting an unnecessary strain on these muscles.

I am not suggesting that the plank is a bad ab exercise, in fact it has been proven as one of the best exercises to activate your abdominals.  But very few people have the abdominal control to perform a plank correctly and need to start off on less strenuous exercises.

So where should you start? Your mind probably went to the next most popular ab exercise: The crunch. But don’t do it!

The crunch is the worst ab exercise you can do.  Why? Because it works everything else — back, hip flexors, etc. — except the abdominals. Many people plow through the exercise and have no idea that their low back muscles or their hip flexors were doing most the work.

Instead start to ease into abdominal training with the dead bug. The video below demonstrates how to perform this exercise. It may look familiar to readers who have ever done any sort of rehab for their back. The dead bug teaches you how to properly activate the abdominals in order to protect the lower back.

Think of your abdominals as a carefully constructed Lego set. When you open a Lego box, there are bags of individual pieces.  These bags are labeled in order from 1 and up depending on the complexity of the Lego. To build the brilliant structure advertised, you have follow the numerical order.  Your abs are no different. 

Skipping bags 1 and 2 is the abdominal equivalent of skipping the dead bug exercise. Your abdominals need a solid base to form.  The dead bug, while some may consider it tedious, is an essential building block for your abdominals.