Advanced Abdominal Workout

This section provides optional methods to strengthen abs. Select several that work best for you to incorporate into daily workout. YOU SHOULD CONSULT WITH YOUR PHYSICIAN OR OTHER HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONAL BEFORE STARTING THIS OR ANY OTHER FITNESS PROGRAM.

Exercises NOTES

Supine Leg Extension with Abdominal Stabilization

The supine leg extensions with abdominal stabilization is a great exercise to help your client understand the pelvic stabilization that's required to protect your lower back. Begin on the floor with the help of gravity and then take your left knee and flex it a little bit past 90 degrees until you can really feel that your low back is flat. You'll have a good abdominal contraction now that your low back is touching the floor. Then gently and slowly extend the leg, keeping the shin parallel to the floor. As you do this, the torque on the hip flexors increases, which tends to make the abdominals relax and the pelvis to rotate forward, arching the back. You will need to make sure that you are stabilizing the low back flat on the floor. Bend the knee, bring it back, and repeat. The threshold will be how far can you go without the back arching. If you cannot go all the way to the floor, that's fine. You only go that far, bring it back, and stay within that threshold.


Single-Leg Balance with Rotation Toward or Away

The single leg balance with torso rotation is an exercise where we use the mass and momentum of the upper body to create a reaction down at the foot that has to be controlled. At the same time, there will be some hip motion as the pelvis moves around the fixed femur. Hold your hands out directly at chest level in front of you and shift your weight onto your right leg. Then rotate your arms and your upper body to the right. As you do that, the momentum causes you to shift to the outside of your right foot. If you don't control that, you'll lose your balance. So you'll have a lot of stability going on down there at the foot. If you want to create the opposite reaction, rotate your hands the other way. Now the mass and momentum are pulling you toward the inside of the foot and you have to control the pronation or else that left foot is will come down. If you would like to regress this exercise and still maintain the dynamics of what's happening, toe tap with your left foot just enough for some stability and then do the same thing with your arms and the rotation of your upper body.


Plank with Pike on Elbows

This plank exercise progression trains the abdominals to stabilize the position of the spine. We've added two elements of instability for the final progression. Start out on your elbows. This is great if you have any wrist issues. Stretch out with the discs underneath your feet and slide up into a pike and then back to the plank. Work hard here with the abdominals. To progress this, come up onto your hands and now come up a little bit higher and press out. Every time you come back, come back to neutral. To further progress this, add a little bit more instability by using a BOSU balance trainer, platform side up. Hold onto the platform, pike your hips up, and then come back into that plank. The instability of the BOSU, along with the gliding discs, really adds a great progression for the abdominals.


push up - kneeling

1. Start in a modified push-up position with your hands and knees on the ground.
2. Bend your elbows to lower your body toward the ground.
3. Without touching the ground, push yourself back up.
4. Continue for the full set.

Be sure to: Keep your body in a straight line and push your chest as far away from your hands as possible.

You should feel it: Working your chest, arms, and torso.


One Arm Lat Stretch with Ball

The one arm lat stretch on the stability ball is a great exercise for creating length through the lat, as well as teaching you to control your lumbopelvic region with your abdominals. Because the lats attach on the low back as tension increases here, extension might also increase. So keep your abdominals tight, almost like a posterior tilt, to keep your lumbar spine neutral. Put the arm out on the ball with the elbow extended. You will be supinated and externally rotated, which will start the lat on a stretch already. From here, bend your left elbow, lower your chest parallel to the floor and increase the length through the lat. Keep yourself square to the floor. Once you have achieved the maximal stretch you want to get here, you can roll the ball across your face in the direction that further creates more separation. If you want increase it a little bit more, hold this for about 30 to 45 seconds and then reverse it on the opposite arm.


lateral dynamic pillar bridge - kneeling

1. Lie on your side with your knees and forearm on the ground with your elbow under your shoulder.
2. Push your forearm away from your body and lift your hips into the air, creating a straight line from your knee to your head.
3. Return to the starting position.
4. Complete the set on one side before repeating on the other side.

Be sure to: Stay tall on your shoulder throughout the movement.


lateral pillar bridge - feet staggered

1. Lie on your side with your forearm on the ground under your shoulder and your feet in a split stance with the top leg forward.
2. Push your forearm away from your body and lift your hips into the air, supporting your weight on your forearm and feet.
3. Hold this position for the prescribed amount of time.
4. Switch sides and repeat.

Be sure to: Keep your body in a straight line and your stomach tight.

You should feel it: Working your shoulders and torso.


hip abduction - sidelying straight leg

1. Lie on your side with your head resting on your bottom arm, legs straight, and top leg slightly behind your bottom leg.
2. Keeping it straight, lift your top leg up in the air and slightly back.
3. Lower your leg back to the floor.
4. Complete the set on one side before repeating with the other leg.

Be sure to: Do not allow any movement through your torso as you lift your leg.

You should feel it: Working the outside hip of your top leg.


rotational crunch - bicycle

1. Lie face up on the ground with your hands behind your head, one leg straight and lifted 3 to 4 inches off the ground, the opposite hip and knee bent to 90 degrees each.
2. Curl your torso and pelvis toward each other, rotating your torso toward the bent leg.
3. Repeat the move by rotating your torso toward the opposite side, straightening the bent leg, and bending the straight hip and knee to 90 degrees each.
4. Continue alternating to complete the set.

Be sure to: Keep your belly button drawn in, stomach tight, and neck relaxed.

You should feel it: Working your abdominals.



1. Lie face up with your knees bent and a small pad or towel under your lower back. Place your hands behind your head to support your neck.
2. Lift your chest until your shoulder blades are off the ground while at the same time rotating your pelvis toward your belly button.
3. Slowly return to the starting position.
4. Continue for the full set.

Be sure to: Do not pull your head with your hands.

You should feel it: Working your abdominals.


glute bridge (time)

1. Lie faceup with your arms to the side, knees bent, and heels on ground.
2. Fire (squeeze) your glutes to lift your hips off the ground until your knees, hips, and shoulders are in straight line.
3. Hold this position for the prescribed amount of time.

Be sure to: If you feel your hips drop or back extend, relax and reset before continuing.

You should feel it: Working your glutes and to a lesser degree your hamstrings and lower back.


hip crossover

1. Lie faceup with your arms at your sides, knees bent, and heels on the ground.
2. Lift your knees up and across the front of your body.
3. Maintaining your balance, return to the starting position.
4. Continue alternating to complete the set.

Be sure to: Keep your knees together and your shoulders on the ground throughout the move.

You should feel it: Working the hip of your balancing leg and hip flexors of the other leg.


Supine Pullover

This core exercise uses a weighted bar, a dowel, or broom. Start by lying on your back, pressing the bar up above your chest. Flex the shoulders, bringing the bar overhead, stabilize through the abdominals, and pull it back up. For the next progression, take your feet off the floor. Keep the knees above the hips and brace the abs. As you lower the bar overhead, extend one leg, and then bring it back in. Alternate to work both sides of the body. For the third and final progression, extend both legs out as you bring the bar overhead. Stabilize the abdominals and spine by gripping, bracing, and breathing. Repeat 8 to 12 repetitions.


Double Arm Swing

The Double Arm Swing is a classic kettlebell exercise that can be also performed with a dumbbell. The objective of this exercise is to squat down, thrust up through the hips, and drive the kettlebell away from the body. Come down and thrust up with a powerful contraction of the hips and swing that kettlebell away from you. To progress, perform this with one arm. Rotate the torso as you come down and make your spine really long. Maintain neutral position in your head and neck. To further progress this, alternate your hands at the very top of the movement when the bell feels weightless. This is really critical. You never want to alternate when the kettlebell is down between your legs. That's very awkward and easy to drop the kettlebell.


Side Lunge


Obliques Abdominals on Stability Ball with Opposite Knee Lift

Abdominal oblique crunches on a stability ball will create an imbalance between the distribution of stability each time you lift a foot. So raise one foot off the ground and as you do, cross over the opposite side of the body, creating an oblique crunch alternating sides each time and stability of the foot that's still on the floor. You'll also want to minimize the motion of the stability ball as you curl up.


Shoulder Bridge with Posterior Pelvic Rotation

The shoulder bridge with posterior rotation is an exercise that's a little bit different than a traditional shoulder bridge because we want you to control what your lumbar spine and pelvis are doing as you raise up. First, put your arms above your head, which tenses the lats a little bit and increases the tendency for lumbar lordosis. Then do a posterior pelvic rotation using your abdominals to push your lower back literally into the floor. That's the point of reference for the pelvis. From here, raise your buttocks up off the floor into the bridge only as far as you can without the pelvis rotating forward. So there's a limit on how high you'll be able to go. You'll feel some lengthening through here. The higher you go, the more you have to increase your abdominal and gluteal contraction to maintain that pelvic position. Hold that position and then bring it back down to the floor after the desired amount of time. To regress this exercise and take a little bit of the tension off the lats and therefore the tendency to arch the lower back, bring your arms down to the side, still doing the posterior tilt with the pelvis, still engaging the abdominals and glutes as you raise up.


Quadruped Hip Extension with Abduction

Quadruped hip extension with abduction is an exercise that we use to build core stability and stabilization through the hips and lumbopelvic area. We will use the leg that's moving to create a disturbance to the body's center of gravity to increase the need for stability. To start, go on all fours positioned square like a box. Then brace with your abdominals, so you're not doing a posterior tilt but bracing with all of your abdominals at this point. From here, bring your left leg out straight behind you, level with the rest of the body. You won't be increasing your lumbar extension as you do that and you also did not have a shift in your weight as you lifted your left leg up. From here, bring your left leg away only as far as you can without rotating it out, again bringing this disturbance to your center of gravity that has to be stabilized through this position. If you want to regress this exercise, just do the hip extension without the abduction. A progression of this exercise would be to bring the leg back into the hip extension again and increase the tempo of the abduction, so you would go in and out with your leg faster, requiring more stabilization and quicker reaction to the disruptions in your center of gravity.


Standing Hip Hinge

The standing hip hinge is an exercise we use to load the whole posterior, longitudinal system of the body, providing lumbar stability at the same time. First, stand with your feet nice and square and put your hands on your hips with the thumbs pointing forward, which will cause you to externally rotate at the glenohumeral joint. Then squeeze your elbows together, which cues spinal extension. At this point, hinge forward from the hip without flexing the spine. Your quads will be tight so your knees are fully extended and the weight is over the balls of the feet of the metatarsal heads. This keeps the whole posterior sling loaded. Keep the lumbar extensors engaged to protect the lower back and then hold this position.