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I'm currently on weight maintenance, looking to tone up some parts of my body. I do 30 minutes of cardio 2-3 times a week, and body weight strength training with circuit routines 2 times a week.
I've been trying to work on my abdominal muscles to get my stomach a little more lean, but every time I try to do sit-ups, leg raises, T-raises, or any other "ab" exercise I've seen online, my lower back starts hurting.
Does anyone have ideas for ab exercises that are easy on the back? Otherwise, any tips for me to help exercise correctly so I don't hurt myself?
ab exercises won't lean down your abs any. But if you must, planks are decent for a little strength.
Sounds like you should focus on strengthening your lower back.
Ajaro offered some good advice. I just wanted to add...
If you want to lean out your abdominal section, it is more about the types of foods you are eating and how many calories you are consuming and far less about what type of abdominal work you are doing. Also, instead of doing exercises that isolate your abs, I would recommend killing two birds with one stone and doing strength training exercises that work your core like squats or deadlifts for instance. Your abs and lower back will both get stronger in the process and you will end up burning more calories and getting better results than doing ab exercises.
Finally, once you have built up your conditioning a bit more, I would recommend doing wind sprints a few times per week. Not only will it provide a great core workout, but your metabolism will stay elevated much longer than after regular cardio and the cardio workout you get from sprinting is top notch. Make sure you do a proper warm up, and then start doing 15-20 second sprints as hard and as fast as you can combined with 60 second walking recovery periods. Do this for 15-20 minutes.
pebble: I would suggest not doing any ab exercises until your back completely feels fine.
Then, I would study some pictures and videos (Google Youtube, for example) on proper techniques for females who are beginning a weight-lifting program, even if it is a rudimentary or modest one, using machines or free weights. Also, study videos of the best form for doing planks, etc.
Just little things like how to stand properly and hold the back property (example: when doing standing bicep curls) are important. Whether one uses free weights or machines with cables and whatnot, form is extremely important.
By the way, one little thing "wrong" when doing your ab exercises (or one of the circuit exercises) can be the culprit. There are many things that might be causing your back problem. For a few weeks, my lower back bothered me a bit -- I thought it was from doing my hanging abs or hitting the heavy bag. Nope -- it was because of how I sat on an old, folding chair when working at my off-line computer. I switched chairs and then eventually bought a new one for my on-line computer. I have had absolutely no back problems of any kind since sitting in good chairs.
I have an ab roller that really seems to help. It supports my neck and I haven't had any back pain from it. I've had mine for years so I don't know if you can even buy one any more.
I used to have really weak abs / core, and the thing that helped me was a swiss exercise ball. I got it from Gaiam, and it came with a Suzanne Deason DVD which had some really good routines and moves on it.
I haven't used the DVD in a while, since after I got stronger I moved onto power yoga, and then progressive weight training. But it was a great start for me, and wasn't a huge $$ investment to boot.
However, having a husband with chronic back pain has taught me that you shouldn't ignore it. You may want to consider seeing a physical therapist and get recommendations for some good exercises that won't prolong or cause injury.
ETA: And, as mentioned, exercise won't "lean out" your abs, only strengthen them. If you want to trim the area, look at your diet.
see you are doing ab exercises as part of your weight training ,am doing the same. only my expectation is to work my ab muscles. Ive come to understand for sure only way to lean it is through gradual calorie deficit.
have you tried crushes?.
since i started my weight loss through eating and exercise am dealing with pains/sprains. i had the same pains /sprains when the first time Ive lost weight long back before it yoyo'ed back again.
I got wise this time around and got an Ointment that relieves pains.when working out if i get pains i apply ointment it gives fast relief so basically i keep using it when ever i face any pain. i do this, so i can continue doing my exercises and not use the pain as an excuse to not workout.