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Published on May 9, 2008


Today you will learn of three basic exercises that will help your abdominal endurance and low back health. These exercises are the plank, the side plank, and the bird dog exercise.

Now, I want to be honest and say that these three abdominal exercises are not the most exciting to do. They won't give you that classic burning sensation in your abs that leaves you feeling like you've really worked them hard.

However, these three are the safest and probably the most important to do when first starting to work out to prevent you from low back injury.

Dr. Stuart McGill, a researcher in Canada, has done extensive research on low back pain and has concluded that individuals who have a lot of endurance in their abdominals tend to have less chance of sustaining an injury to the low back.

The great thing about each of these three exercises is because no equipment is required you can do them in your own home. Also, because these are endurance exercises, you can do them every day.

So, the first exercise is the Plank. To do this, rest your elbows on a mat, and place your body in a straight line. Brace your abs and try to work up to where you can hold that position for 2-3 minutes straight.

If right now, you can only do the plank for 20 seconds, then each day try to add a couple seconds. Alternatively, you can hold for 10 seconds, rest for 1 second and do that 6-7 times.

The next exercise is the Side Plank. This time, position your body on its side, resting on one elbow. You want to ensure that you keep your body in a straight line by keeping those hips raised. Also, if you want to make it harder, then place your free arm straight up in the air. You should be able to work your way up to 45 seconds per side.

In both plank exercises, if holding in the described positions is too difficult, then start out with your knees on the ground and work your way up.

The last exercise is the Bird Dog. I have to admit, it looks a little silly, and you may wonder what body part this exercise is working, but you're really just working the small muscles in your low back.

So, get down on all fours like a dog and keep your back flat. Next, take your opposite arm and opposite leg and extend them out in front and behind from your body. The key is to limit the rotation from your hips and to keep your abs braced at all times. Hold the top position for 5 seconds. Do 5-6 repetitions per side, and then take a rest. This exercise will also help with your mobility in your upper back.

As I mentioned, you can do these exercises everyday or every other day to build your abdominal endurance.

So if you're just starting out and would like to strengthen your torso muscles, then make sure to add these three exercises to your program.

Craig Ballantyne from Turbulence Training and TTMembers shows us how to get a ripped, strong core with these tried and true bodyweight exercises.

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