Abdominal Strengthening Exercises

by PhysioAdvisor Staff

Exercises > Strengthening (Muscles) > Abdominal Strengthening Exercises

The following abdominal strengthening exercises are designed to improve the strength of the abdominal muscles (figure 1). You should discuss the suitability of these abdominal strengthening exercises with your physiotherapist prior to beginning them. Generally, they should only be performed provided they do not cause or increase pain.

Begin with the basic abdominal strengthening exercises. Once these are too easy, progress to the intermediate abdominal strengthening exercises and eventually the advanced abdominal exercises.

Abdominal Anatomy

Figure 1 – Abdominals


Abdominal Strengthening – Basic Exercises

To begin with, the following basic abdominal strengthening exercises can be performed daily. As your abdominal strength improves, the exercises can be progressed by gradually increasing the repetitions, frequency or duration of the exercises provided they do not cause or increase pain.

Transversus Abdominis Retraining

The transversus abdominis muscle is a key stabilizing muscle often used as part of a core stability, Pilates or rehabilitation program. Learning how to activate this muscle and then applying it to other exercises and daily activities is an important aspect of core stability. Slowly draw the section of your abdomen situated below your belly button upwards and inwards “away from your belt line” whilst breathing normally. Your rib cage should remain relaxed and should not elevate during this process. You should be able to feel the muscle contracting if you press deeply 2cm in from the bony prominence at the front of your pelvis (figure 2). Practise holding this muscle at 20 – 30% of a maximal contraction for 10 seconds and repeat 10 times. As your activation and control of this muscle improves, practice activating it during all other abdominal exercises and as long as possible during everyday activity.

Abdominal Exercises - Transversus Abdominus Retraining

Figure 2 – Transversus Abdominis Retraining

Prone Hold

Begin this abdominal strengthening exercise propped up on your elbows and toes with your back straight as demonstrated (figure 3). Hold this position for as long as possible provided it is pain free and you are maintaining good posture. Repeat 3 times.

Abdominal Exercises - Prone Hold

Figure 3 – Prone Hold

Side Holds

Begin this abdominal strengthening exercise propped up on one elbow and foot with your back straight as demonstrated (figure 4). Hold this position for as long as possible provided it is pain free and you are maintaining good posture. Repeat 3 times.

Abdominal Exercises - Side Holds

Figure 4 – Side Holds (left side)




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