Worst ab workout exercises you should skip to save your back

Ab exercises can be helpful if you know which ones to do. You may be doing worst ab exercises that are probably ineffective and could even hurt your lower back.
Ab exercises to avoid
Know ab exercises you should avoid. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Natalia Ningthoujam Published: 15 Aug 2023, 08:59 am IST
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Many workout enthusiasts spend a lot of time on getting washboard abs. And the best thing about ab exercises is that they are are quite convenient. You can do many ab exercises anywhere and you don’t always have to hit the gym for them. But some choose ab workouts that are less effective. They are not only inefficient ab workouts that don’t help to build strong abdominal muscles, but can also leave people with back pain. Let’s find out the worst ab exercises so that you can skip them.

Health Shots reached out to fitness guru Aminder Singh of Team Aminder fame to get a list on ab exercises you need to avoid.

woman with flat abs
Skip these ab exercises. Image Courtesy: Shutterstock

What are ab exercises?

Ab exercises focus on strengthening the abdominal muscles, which are crucial for core stability. These exercises help to enhance the core’s ability to provide support and stability throughout the body, says Singh. While abs exercises won’t specifically reduce weight or trim the tummy, they do play a vital role in improving core strength and force output. For example, imagine a boxer throwing a punch. The power that gets generated from the ground travels through the core and is delivered through the abdominal muscles. So, it’s a strong core that acts as a force delivery unit.

Ab exercises you can avoid

Sometimes just moving, twisting or turning is not enough. That’s why not all ab exercises are good and can also be less effective for you. Some of these exercises are:

1. Leg raises

Leg raises are often mistaken as an abdominal exercise, but they primarily work the leg muscles and are not effective for targeting the core, says the expert. Also, they can also induce a lot of stress on the lower back, which can result in injury.

2. Roman chair crunches

This exercise is not ideal for the abdominal muscles as it mainly engages the hip flexors instead. It involves crunching your upper body towards your knees and can also put a lot of strain on the lower back.

3 Hanging leg raises

Hanging leg raises primarily activate the hip flexor muscles rather than the abdominal muscles, so it is not a good abs exercise.

4. Sit-ups

While sit-ups are a traditional abs exercise, they are not effective if you are targeting the abdominal muscles. Rather, they mainly focus on the hip flexors, says Singh.

5. Crunches

Crunches are very common, but they mostly target the rectus abdominis, which is the outer layer of the abdominal muscles. They mostly focus on the top layer of the core, and may do more harm than good to your back.

Woman doing crunches
Crunches is not best ab exercise. Image Courtesy: Shutterstock

6. Russian twists

People tend to perform it in an incorrect manner, so it won’t do much for the abs. They often bring their back too far forward without properly engaging the core.


Keep an idea of your risk of weight-related issues.

Check BMI

However, you should know that each person’s exercise routine should be tailored to their specific needs and conditions. There is no one-size-fits-all approach, and exercises should be tailored accordingly to ensure safety and effectiveness. Any exercise that puts excessive pressure on the lower back should be avoided as they can be bad for core strength.

You can still get fabulous abs by considering incorporating alternate exercises that are safe and suitable for everyone, regardless of gender, age or physical condition. One such exercise is the plank hold, which involves maintaining a static position without movement. This makes it a suitable choice even for people with lower back pain. So, choose the right exercise to get great abs and ensure taking expert advice.

Besides, don’t forget to eat right. Exercise alone cannot help you get rid of belly fat. The support of a balanced diet is non-negotiable.

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About the Author

Natalia Ningthoujam has written on various subjects - from music to films and fashion to lifestyle - as a journalist in her career that started in 2010. After getting stories from the crime scene, police headquarters, and conducting interviews with celebrities, she is now writing on health and wellness which has become her focus area. ...Read More

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