I’m very guilty of barely ever working abs, and I think it’s holding me back on squats and deadlifts. I tend to slightly hyperextend my back when doing weighted closed chain exercises, and this is from a combination of things. First of all, I’m female, and women tend to have more of a natural arch in their back. We’re also generally more flexible, which allows us to put our back in more compromised positions in addition to the natural arch we already have. Think about the anatomy of your discs when you put a large arch in your back. Now imagine that with weight added. Cringe worthy, right?
Lastly, combine this with a background of dance, ballet, or gymnastics, where you are very often taught to exaggerate the arch in your back during movements or landings, and you are setting yourself up for lower back pain later in life.
Check out that hyperextension. That doesn’t translate well to good squat or deadlift form.
To balance this out, I’m promising myself to work abs more. This is more than just about PRs, but about the long term health of my spine. These are some of my favorite exercises to strengthen abs, and I’m definitely going to be incorporating more of these from now on to balance out my core strength.
Reverse Crunch with Resistance Band
To make this harder, extend your arms out behind your head and bring your shoulders off the floor.
Decline Cable Sit-Up
This is a killer one. I use two cables and extend my arms out all the way in front of me when I sit up, but this isn’t always possible during busy gym hours, so this video shows a great variation when you only have access to one cable.