We all love training our abs.  Most power comes from having a strong core and strong legs.  Here are some of my favourite abdominal exercises and common mistakes I see with clients.

Hanging leg raises

Either hanging from a rack or in a back supported chair slowly raise your legs by tilting your pelvis, then in a controlled movement bring them back down.

Common Mistakes:

Don’t let your body relax at the bottom. Maintain a curve (pelvic tilt) throughout the entire movement.  Otherwise,  you’re engaging your hip flexors and not your abs.  Think of the position your hips are in when doing a hip thrust.

you’re not engaging your upper body. You need to keep your scapula retracted, locked and all muscles braced throughout the movement

You’re using momentum. Swinging your body won’t do you any favours. Use a controlled motion from the bottom, all the way to the top of the movement and back down to starting position.

Tip: if you’re struggling to get reps in using proper form and effective tempo, try bending your knees. If that’s still too challenging, try doing them laying on a bench.

Weighted cable crunch

Kneeling on the ground use a high cable with a rope attachment gripping the rope in front of your head with your hands holding the rope by your forehead.  Slowly contract down and bow into the floor while curving your spine and contracting your core as you do.

Common Mistakes:

you’re not rounding your back. In order to fully engage the abs, you need to curve your spine. If you keep your spine straight during this exercise, you’re only working your hip flexors.

You are pulling with your hands: keep your hands and the rope directly above or in front of your head and don’t let them float up. Be conscious to pull with your abs and remember your hands and arms aren’t supposed to help you bring pull weight down. If you find yourself doing this, try lowering your weight and focus on form.

Don’t sit back on your feet! To make sure your abs are getting the most of the workout, you want your lower body to be rock solid. When you sink back to your feet, you lose the ab contraction and pass the load to your shoulder/traps and arms.

The Plank

Plant your feet on the ground and distribute your weight on your toes and your forearms. Brace ALL your muscles, and pull your core tight for as long as you can.


Common Mistakes:

Your butt is up in the air or your hips are sinking to the floor. People do this so they can hold the position longer. Longer doesn’t mean more effective. You also put more pressure on your shoulders which can cause injuries.

You’re not flexing every muscle in your body. You need to squeeze your thighs together while squeezing your quads. Arms and shoulders should be locked in position with your scapula retracted and arms strong.

Ideally, you want to picture your ribs being pulled toward your hips and your hips toward your ribs. Keep your lats flexed and toes pressed hard into the ground. Imagine you are trying to drag your toes toward your ribs. You won’t be able to do it, but try and pull your feet. All this going on while you keep your hips aligned with the rest of your body.. You want ALL your muscles fully engaged in this exercise. That’s a perfect plank!



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