1 You can get too much of a good thing, and exercise is no different. So you can do 1000 crunches? So what? When it comes to working out, it is quality over quantity that gets results. This is especially true where the core is concerned, so focus on good technique and quality of movement over the numbers and results will come.
2 Steer clear of sit-ups. Though there is a time and place for sit-ups in abdominal training, they favour the muscles of the hip rather than the stomach and are often done incorrectly, causing more harm than good. At best you’ll be wasting workout time; at worst you’ll be subjecting your lower back to high levels of stress over and over again. The only person who will benefit from this is your osteopath or chiropractor!
3 Give the core time to recover from a workout. Like any other muscle, the abdominals can be overtrained. Only train core muscles three to four times a week.
4 For those just starting to exercise, I recommend training the core at the start of a workout. The chances are that your technique and application will be best at the start of a session. As you progress, core training will become more integrated into your main routine and will become more dynamic. It can be hard to maintain motivation to do stability training, so regularly change your exercises and when you do them to add variety to the workout.
5 Focus on quality over quantity. Don’t compromise your form to squeeze out that last repetition. Once the abdominals have started to fail, they have been overloaded and that’s good enough.
Before we begin to do anything else, we need to learn how to contract our deep abdominal muscles. This action helps us to maintain stability and support around the spine, whatever we are doing, and it is important to master it before moving onto more dynamic exercises.
This simple exercise can greatly improve stability of the lower back and strengthen the deep abdominal muscles.
Start on all fours with your hips over your knees and your shoulders directly over your hands.
Feel the abdominals tense but don’t try to suck them inwards.
For day-to-day life, low levels of actual muscle activation are needed. You should feel a gentle contraction.
Maintain a normal breathing pattern, which you should be able to do under low levels of load.
Hold this position for in seconds, relax and repeat 10 times.
Once you have mastered this exercise on all fours, you can progress to perform it in kneeling and in standing positions.
If you find this exercise too difficult on all fours or if you have any kind of wrist or knee injury that may be made worse, try the exercise lying on your back.
Note: Getting the pelvis in the right position during core work can be tricky. The ideal is to aim for a neutral position. This means that there should be a slight arch in the lower back.