This isn’t a workout for making pretty 6-pack abs. The purpose of this workout is to workout the core muscles that can provide lower back stability to prevent injury in every day life as well as improve your sports performance. If you have a weak core, you need to strengthen it to help prevent lower back pain. This is also good preparation for exercises like squats and deadlifts because doing these with a weak core is just asking for injury.
There are two aspects to the core and they are equally important: strength and endurance. You need muscular endurance because that has been shown to help reduce lower back pain*.
So here’s the workout, you rotate around like a rotisserie making two complete revolutions during your workout:
- right side plank
- left side plank
- front plank
If you can do any of the above exercises more than 45 seconds then use added weight so to make it more difficult. If you think this workout is too easy for you then add a round of windshield wipers between rotations! Its really important to do this workout to music you love as its not inherently an interesting or exciting workout and there can be a tendency to cut it short out of boredom – don’t do this! Its very important that you work on your endurance make sure you have a good playlist before doing this workout.
So how often do you do this workout? Because we are working on endurance as well as strength, this workout should be done every day or every other day. This is in contrast to the bodybuilding type ab workouts which are only done once or twice a week where you are trying to make the ab muscles bigger.
Lets talk about two additional exercises you can add to build up those spinal extensors once the supermans are too easy. These two exercises help build your extensor strength to the point where you can safely do things like squats and deadlifts. Now you might ask, why don’t you just jump into squats and deadlifts to strengthen your spinal extensors. The answer is because its safer to start with a very gentle and controlled strengthening before you couple it with a complicated compound exercise – it gives you a larger margin for error without injury. My favorite exercises for strengthening the spinal extensors are the Scooby Dead Lift and barbell rows for lats. Only when you get strong at bent over rows and SLDL would I suggest that you move on to deadlifts and squats.
Biering-Sorensen F., “Physical Measurements As Risk Indicators for Low Back Trouble Over a One-Year Period,” Spine, Vol. 9, No. 2, 1984, pp. 106-119.