September 29, 2023

  • Dead bugs are one of the best ab workouts, according to personal trainer Brittany Noelle.
  • Noelle said many people perform ab exercises incorrectly, which can lead to injury.
  • He said sit-ups are one of the worst ab exercises because most people do them wrong.

Ab exercises are convenient because most of them can be done anywhere, without a gym or equipment. But people tend to do them inappropriately or choose workouts that are generally less effective, according to the personal trainer, Brittany Noelle.

Noelle told Insider that doing ab exercises incorrectly can put unnecessary stress on other parts of your body, which can ultimately lead to injury.

Noelle said sit-ups are one of the most injury-prone and ineffective exercises you can do to build strong abs. She said workouts like side planks and dead bugs are some of the best.

5. Sitters can cause injury without proper form

Noelle said she doesn’t recommend crunches for ab strength because most people who do the workout don’t use proper form. He said the number one mistake he sees clients make is over-engaging the hip flexors instead of their abs when performing the movement. Noelle said this movement can tighten the hips and lead to back pain.

Sit-ups can also put strain on the spine and neck, Noelle said, and put unwanted stress on different parts of the body, instead of engaging the abdominal muscles.

To properly perform a sit-up, Noelle said to first secure your feet under something that can support your weight and place your hands in front of your chest. He said to then squeeze your ribs toward your belly button in a crunching motion and, keeping your upper abs engaged, use your lower abs to lift your back off the ground. Make sure your back isn’t rounded and sit as high as you can before slowly returning to the ground by rolling each vertebra.

4. Russian twists are easy to execute incorrectly

Noelle said she doesn’t recommend Russian twists because people often bring their backssmall too far forward with their tail just below them, which doesn’t properly engage the core.

Noelle also said that many people twist too much with their arms and neck instead of really activating their abs.

The personal trainer said to make sure you are leaning back with your feet up and knees bent. Your back should be straight with your arms in front of you, he said. Extend your obliques as you turn slightly to the right, return to center, then slightly to the left.

3. Planks aren’t as effective after a minute

A plank can be a great exercise, Noelle said, but many people hold a plank for too long. Holding a plank for more than 1 minute doesn’t make the exercise more effective, Noelle said. In a 2018 article, spine specialist Dr. Stuart McGill agreed, saying The Telegraph that holding a plank for minutes is not helpful. He recommended 3 plank intervals of 10 seconds for best results.

Noelle also said that the fixed position of a plank does not replicate the daily movements of our core.

He recommends keeping the time you hold the plank relatively short and incorporating additional movements, such as tapping each shoulder as you lunge or lifting one leg at a time.

2. Side planks can prepare your body for other compound exercises

Noelle ranks the side plank as one of the best ab exercises because it engages the core and extends the hips, which can help with other exercises like deadlifts and squats. Noelle recommends placing one foot in front of the other instead of stacking them for even more hip extension.

He also said while doing the exercise, make sure you don’t round the shoulders and keep the back straight to make the exercise more effective.

1. Dead bugs are easy to do right and good for back pain

Dead bugs are Noelle’s favorite core strength exercise because it’s easier to maintain proper form. The exercise involves lying on your back with your arms pointing straight out in front of you and your legs bent at 90 degrees. Then extend the leg and opposite arm behind you and return to the starting position. Repeat with your other leg and arm.

Noelle said that lying on your back keeps your spine neutral, which can be very helpful for people with pre-existing back problems. However, if you feel pain while lying on your back, he said not to do the exercise.

You can make the exercise more challenging by holding objects like a foam roller or stability ball in your hands, she said.

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