Before we begin to tell you the worst exercises for your abs, let us first tell you why these are the abs exercises to avoid in your workouts so as to prevent injuries and pain. The reason is two-fold.
If your workout goal is to burn the excess fat and get your tummy in, isolated ab exercises like sit-ups or crunches are very small movements likely to arouse no or little metabolic fat-burning effect. These exercises train the 8-pack muscles, called rectus abdominis, which are a comparatively very smaller muscle group to burn any significant amount of calories. Hence, you must understand that small isolated movements and exercises do nothing to elevate your metabolism or generate heat.
The list of the exercises you should avoid for your abs workout that we’re going to give you might be pretty surprising for some of you. We are convinced that a lot of you might be doing these exercises, and you might even be feeling like you’re accomplishing something, but the reality is far away. Most of these exercises pull huge forces on your lumbar spine or lower back. These hip flexor muscles activate, further pulling your torso and hips close together, and wedging your intervertebral discs together, which could also lead to herniation. In exercises like sit-ups, your hip flexors, and not your abs, are doing most of the work. This, over time, leads to muscular imbalances, further growing into postural problems, creating all sorts of pain issues in your neck, shoulders, and lower back.
We hope you’ve understood why exactly we want you to refrain from these abs exercises in your workout. Now, let us move on to tell you about the abs exercises to avoid.
Sit-ups are considered to be a good abs exercise by most people, to be honest, and most of this is because of the numerous magazines and TV infomercials that have made you believe this. If you begin doing a lot of sit-ups, muscular imbalances are assured. Sit-ups are not only ineffective but counterproductive for your abs workout.
The stationary bike places a lot of strain on your neck, back, and hips, and is not effective for your abs. We will tell you what you can do in place of this exercise. You can spend some of your time on a Versa Climber or you can also do a set of 25-30 mountain climbers. These exercises will help in strengthening your core rather than straining your spine.
While hanging leg lifts might really appeal to the people watching you work out, you must know that they are not worth it. Hanging on a horizontal rod and working so hard to raise your legs upward, working against gravity, is something that creates a huge pull across your hips and lumbar spine. This exercise, in short, is a hip-flexor movement, as described above, that will work against you.
Again, doing this exercise practically means making your hip flexors sorer than your abs. Also, the steeper the incline, the harder you will have to work against gravity, and hence, a greater load on your lower back. Therefore, this is certainly one of the abs exercises you should avoid.
People seem to rely on side bends a lot, because they think they’re losing their love handles this way. However, your love handles are only going to disappear when you lose your excess body fat. When you do side bends, it creates a crushing force on the lateral side of your vertebrae, which you must definitely avoid. In place of side bends, you can go for side planks which will help you remain uptight and also strengthen your core.
However effective this might seem, it is also just working to tighten your hips, adding to the damage that is done to your body by sitting at one place the entire day.
In place of V-sit crunches, you can go for Physioball Ys and Ts which will help build your core strength and improve your body posture as well.
We agree with the importance of rotational movement and also that is generally ignored by most guys, but we believe this lumbar crunching exercise is not the best way to address that problem. Your lumbar spine is not naturally meant to rotate, and when you do this exercise, it leads to more grinding of your lumbar vertebrae, which can increase your risk of back pain as well, over a course of time.
These ‘reverse sit-ups’ are hip-flexor exercises that do not target your abs, but your hips. Hence, this also makes it to our list of ‘Abs exercises to avoid in your workout’.
Now you know what are the things that you need to avoid for your abs workout. Let us also have a glance at a few tips to improve the efficacy of your ab workout.
Working on your abs greatly helps in improving your strength and mobility, during workouts as well as in your everyday life. The key to a successful and effective workout is not spending hours in the gym, but to work in the right direction and do exercises that will target the right body parts. Your abs will help build a strong core for you, which is quite important for your quality of life. Learn from the tips given above, and always keep trying new variants in your exercises, which will make you understand what works the best for you and your body, and also achieve your results.