The Downsides Of Ab Exercises

Despite the hype, conventional ab exercises can end up causing you more harm than good. While crunches and sit-ups might eventually give you the six-pack of your dreams, if you're doing too many, they can also damage your body in the process (via Livestrong). That's because conventional ab exercises can actually overwork your abdominal muscles, causing muscle strain. If you begin experiencing pain, swelling, bruising, or trouble flexing your abs during your workout, you should stop what you're doing and ice your midsection. If your symptoms last longer than two days or the pain gets worse, you should contact your doctor and schedule a visit.

Doing the wrong ab exercises can also cause back pain. Sit-ups, in particular, can put added strain on your back and spine, which can potentially result in bulging or herniated discs. That's why it's important to replace these harmful exercises with ones that tone your abs without causing you any pain.

Ab exercises that won't hurt your back

While crunches and sit-ups might be the off the table, there are plenty of other ab exercises to choose from. For instance, plank exercises can effectively engage your core without straining your muscles in the process (via NBC News). Both front planks and side planks can give you the toned and pain-free results you desire.

To execute a front plank, position your elbows under your shoulders, put your forearms on the ground, and lift your body up on your toes. Keep your back straight the entire time and hold this position for as long as possible. Side planks involve doing this on only one side of your body at a time. Other painless ab exercises include dying bugs, leg lowers, hollow hands, ab wheel rollouts, and half kneeing Palloff presses.

"These exercises focus on getting your spine into a good position and maintaining that while your extremities are moving," Brian Bott, a certified functional strength coach, told NBC News. "Instead of creating the movement, your muscles are working hard against it. Your abs still get a tremendous workout and there's no worries of overuse."