Are you just getting into fitness? Good for you! You should be very proud of yourself and know that this decision is most definitely life changing (in a good way).
For a beginner, this is a very important turning point and it can easily turn south in a hurry if you’re jumping in too quickly. Don’t let those words discourage you though, just hear me out.
Starting out slow is the perfect way to begin your fitness journey. If you jump into more advanced exercises too quickly, this can cause extreme soreness and possibly injuries, which can be very discouraging and send you off track from the get-go.
We all want fast results and some people think they can speed things up by going harder, faster, and more often. But that just isn’t the case. You have to work up to each level, advance over the course of weeks not days, and allow yourself time to rest. After all, rest time is when all the magic happens in the form of muscle growth and recovery.
For now, stick to the basic version of every exercise and avoid the following:
Incline sit-ups are typically done from a bench. They take a lot of core strength which includes the muscles of the lower back and, of course, the abdominal muscles.
For beginners, these can be extremely taxing and if your core strength isn’t developed yet, performing such an advanced exercise can cause strains and even tempt the body to compensate by means of poor form.
If you don’t have the strength to properly perform this exercise, you might round the back, or even arch the back. This is bad form that can cause injuries quickly.
What To Do Instead
Take it back to the basics. You can either perform the traditional sit-up from the floor, or even the much easier, but equally effective, abdominal crunch.
Crunches are easy on the back as long as you perform them correctly. And yes, even the advanced can mess these up easily so let’s go over a few tips:
- Keep your back straight, the goal isn’t to bring your chest to your knees, but to bring your throat towards the ceiling.
- The head should stay relaxed in the hands.
- Exhale as your crunch up, inhale as you lay back down.
Hiit, also known as high intensity interval training is not recommended for beginners. It’s a mix of intense bursts of exercises, followed by a rest period that’s repeated for up to 20 minutes.
Hiit can either be done through cardio, or using bodyweight exercises. Typically, if you are doing a bodyweight hiit workout that includes abdominal exercises, they will be intense. These are exercises such as mountain climbers, high knees, burpees, plank jacks, and more.
What To Do Instead
A better option for working the abs with a mix of various abdominal exercises would be circuit training. This is a slower paced workout that will allow you to go at your own pace using more fitness-level-appropriate exercises such as:
- High Planks
- Side Crunches
- Standing Crunches
- Reverse Crunches
Weighted Abdominal Exercises
Adding weight to your exercises as a beginner can inhibit your form big time. Always start a new exercise without the weight, then slowly add it in once you’ve mastered the move.
A few exercises that you can start without weight and then add weight to over time are:
- Russian Twists- Then add a dumbbell or weight plate
- Crunches- Then add a dumbbell press
- Plank- Then add dumbbell rows
- Reverse Crunch-Then add ankle weights
As you advance, add a little bit of weight and then increase it about every 4-6 weeks. Building strength takes time, so be patient because after all, you can’t rush perfection!
Do you need more information about activating the right muscles? Check out the anatomy of abdominal muscles and how they work.
Please Note: Before following exercise routines or changing your fitness regime, please consult a certified fitness professional. Always talk with a medical practitioner before following dietary advice or taking supplements.