A strong core is vital for a healthy lower back — and let's be honest, who doesn't want a six-pack? Yet I find that many people do the same ab routine over and over. To challenge your body, you need to switch it up! Try these more challenging moves when you're ready to take it up a notch.
1. Stir the Pot
Start in a kneeling position with a gym ball in front of you. Place your elbows on the ball, lean forward from the waist, and, extending your arms, roll the ball in a circle. Maintain a slight bend in your elbows. Do about six to eight reps, then reverse directions.
2. Band Hold
Attach a fitness band to a solid post or, in a pinch, a willing partner. Grab the band, extend, and hold that position. To start off with, have the arms bent. As you progress, straighten the arms to increase the intensity. This is an isometric effort; the band and you should not be moving.
3. Band Chop and Hold
Just like in the band hold, attach the band to a solid post. Grab the band and, instead of holding the extended position, accelerate the pull of the band and “chop” it over your shoulder. You should feel the effort on your abs and obliques.
4. One-Armed Overhead Carry
Simply grab a heavy weight with one hand, press it overhead, and go for a walk. I use dumbbells, but anything will do as long as you can hold on to it safely. Be sure that your hips stay level when you lift and walk. Keep the holding arm straight. Don’t bounce the weight when you move.
Keep your lower back flat, elbows tucked into your side. Tighten abs as you move your body as one unit. Inhale on the back-saw motion; exhale on the forward-saw motion. You should move through about 90 degrees of motion in the upper arms and shoulders.
6. Pike Simplex
Focus on lifting your hips up and back. Keep your arms straight at all times, and shoulder blades should be back and down, as if aiming to touch your waist. Maintain a slight arch in the lower back. Don’t allow it to round. The folding movement is all at the hips.
Cover photo courtesy of iStock photos
Gallery images courtesy of the author
Here are a few more ab workouts for you to try: