5 Red Flags for Weak Abs (FIX THIS!)

  • Published: 23 December 2018
  • It doesn’t matter whether you have visible abs or not, the strength of your core is not something that can be assessed by how they look in a mirror. In this video, I’m going to show you 5 specific things you can look for that will act as red flags to alert you to an ab weakness that you are going to want to correct. For instance, something as simple as getting off the floor from your back (the right way!) can be challenging if you don’t have strong enough abs. Let’s dive in.

    One of the first things you will want to look for is whether you feel your hip flexors fatigue before your abs do when you do any ab exercises. For instance, the ab scissor is one of the classic ab exercises that people of all levels of strength and ability will perform. It involves laying on your back and crossing your legs back and forth over each other for time. When the abs are weak however, the person doing this ab movement will unfortunately feel it in their legs and hip flexors leading to them having to stop because they can’t hold their legs up. Not good.

    Instead, you want to make sure the abs are properly engaged by curling your shoulders off the ground before starting the scissor. This will act to engage the abs and stabilize the spine so that the hip flexors can work as assistance muscles and not the primary movers. Having strong abs will only make this easier in the long run.

    Next, if you get low back pain during any ab exercises you need to stop and assess your strength. This should not happen. The reason it does however, goes back to the overactivity of the hip flexors. When the psoas pulls unopposed or in a highly imbalanced way, it will act to tug down and forward on the lumbar vertebrae because of its attachment to them. This has the effect of creating enormous amounts of stress and force on the low back which can lead to unnecessary pain.

    To fix this you want to assess how you are hooking your feet during certain ab exercises like the sit-up and make sure you instead place the heels over something and pull back. This will engage the hamstrings and help to minimize the overactivity of the hip flexors. Also, by thinking about peeling your back off the floor one vertebra at a time and placing it back down the same way (as if you are rolling paint on the wall) will greatly assist in getting rid of the pain.

    Bracing during the big lifts (bench, squats, and deadlifts) is something that is necessary to the proper performance of these exercises. That said, it is something that should be happening automatically almost as a background action. If you find that by consciously trying to brace you don’t just improve the efficiency and bar path of the movement but feel as if you could add significant weight to the bar, then your abs aren’t inherently strong enough to begin with and it is something you are going to want to work on.

    The ability to activate the transverse abdominis muscle is crucial as well. This muscle runs horizontally around the waist (much like a weight belt does). When you lack the ability or control to contract it you wind up getting lower abs that tend to protrude despite the fact that they could even be ripped and defined. Learning how to activate this muscle is critical to having strong abs.

    Finally, control in all three planes of motion is also crucial. I show you three tests that you can do to identify your ab strength in each. To boot, I show you how the simple act of getting off the floor the right way depends on having good core and ab strength. See if you can do it yourself and share it with your friends to see how they do.

    For a step by step workout and nutrition plan to not only get your abs showing year round but make sure they are strong enough to do anything you want to do with them, be sure to click the link below and get the ATHLEAN-X Training System. See how training like an athlete can get you looking and feeling like one in no time with me coaching you every step of the way.

    For more videos on how to get abs fast and the best exercises for strong abs, be sure to subscribe to our channel here on youtube below and turn on your notifications so you never miss a video when it’s published.

    Get ripped in 90 days - athleanx.com/x/my-workouts
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Comments • 2 165

    ATHLEAN-X™   7 months back

    Want to win an ATHLEAN-X program for free, no strings attached? Click the link below to find out how!


    • BodhiLove
      BodhiLove  3 weeks back

      Any chance anyone could help with subtitles in Spanish for your content Jeff? I am a PT, semi-retired expat living in Costa Rica. I would like to help some of the locals who don't have access to much... your videos would be extremely beneficial. Sad to admit my own Spanish just isn't good enough. Culturally, also taken a lot more seriously when it comes from a man, especially someone who looks like you. Just being honest. Any help or recommendations would be extremely greatly appreciated. .

    • Skydive Scorcher
      Skydive Scorcher  2 months back

      Oblique red flags plz?

    • kayden 88
      kayden 88  6 months back

      Does jumping off your back to you feet like shawn Michaels count??

    • Brad Eriksson
      Brad Eriksson  6 months back

      Hard to win when I live in Australia because of time difference but it's still ok because I can watch your challenging workouts and love to do thanks Jeff. Only failed last abs challenge

    • Dan Rees
      Dan Rees  7 months back

      Hi Jeff, have you done any videos on conditioning training with tendinitis in the knee joint? Love your content.

  • alphapimp
    alphapimp  2 days back

    My abs are pitiful, thx for this Jeff👍

    • Senseless Nonsense
      Senseless Nonsense  2 days back

      Hey Jeff, why is it that when I walk, my lower back starts to hurt, but after a while of walking, my back is fine. I walked for an hour and a half the other day, and for the first 15 minutes my lower back was hurting, but for the rest of the walk I was fine (aside from normal fatigue).

      • alphapimp
        alphapimp  2 days back

        Weird right? My lower back hurts randomly too

    • nguyễn thành công
      nguyễn thành công  3 days back

      your words are gold

      • Alex Williams
        Alex Williams  4 days back

        Thanks for this vid without I would have been doing all of my ab workout wrong thanks

        • Alex Kidd
          Alex Kidd  4 days back

          Jeff thanks 55 and feeling great
          Cheers alex

          • Ian Cristobal
            Ian Cristobal  4 days back

            Big thanks! Wow, I have all the flags! 😅

            • MOM OF 4
              MOM OF 4  5 days back

              Yes very helpful

              • ADR
                ADR  5 days back

                I blindly follow his advance because he has a reason for any disfunction or improper exercise

                • L. Thill
                  L. Thill  6 days back

                  just went to your "truth about planks" video after watching this. it should be linked to this video.

                  • L. Thill
                    L. Thill  6 days back

                    #4 bloated belly, is exactly what I want to address. Tapp Brothers has a good exercise under "never do another crunch again" (my 2nd go-to site),
                    it simply addresses pulling lower back into mat, rotating hips forward, and consciously tensing all through the day to improve brain-muscle connection.
                    Jeff can you comment on this method as I value your opinion and have stopped doing standard planks.
                    As a 65 year old with 40+ years of back trouble, I have not been able to do sit ups . I think this method will eventually help, but for now as soon as Im done, there goes the belly again.
                    thanks Jeff, I watch all your videos and recommend you to all my "fitness freak" friends.

                    • med K2
                      med K2  7 days back

                      Ok i have all of them

                      • Lulu Rosal
                        Lulu Rosal  1 weeks back

                        Definitely will mess with your training, my squats were very very bad for a long time because of my core stabilization

                        • M E
                          M E  1 weeks back

                          When I try to plank with my core pulled in, I can't breathe properly. What am I doing wrong?

                          • M E
                            M E  7 days back

                            @Battle-Worn Robot Taunt Processor I've got a better idea, remove your core muscles surgically

                          • Battle-Worn Robot Taunt Processor
                            Battle-Worn Robot Taunt Processor  7 days back

                            Remove lungs surgically

                        • Rhabdo B
                          Rhabdo B  1 weeks back

                          Yeah I have one rounded red flag that my abs are weak

                          • William Mize
                            William Mize  2 weeks back

                            Dont yu like it?😎😃😎😚😙

                            • William Mize
                              William Mize  2 weeks back

                              I like the video informative keep em coming

                              • Jaylon Williams
                                Jaylon Williams  2 weeks back

                                ITS THE BEAST TITAN!

                                • Raian M
                                  Raian M  2 weeks back

                                  I always watch whats wrong , what not to do , what are the bad forms instead of how to do it. Negativity isnt always bad. This ideo really helped. I watched your ab workouts and many others and now i realiz i been doing them all wrong.

                                  • tasss550
                                    tasss550  2 weeks back

                                    mi 10:50, man Did you have an abdominal hernia at least in this video? I have one and looks the same, I have a little separation between my abs and a little hernis in the middle. Any suggestion? Or I'm totally wrong about your hernia?

                                    • Gaithe Alwahab
                                      Gaithe Alwahab  2 weeks back

                                      Well shit. I have good chest, biceps and the rest but a 9 yr old girl probably has stronger abs than me

                                    • Jose Antonio Borges
                                      Jose Antonio Borges  2 weeks back

                                      Jeff what are the specific moves to Target the transverse abdominus...I'm an athlean x subscriber and I'm doing the workouts but some of the points you raised here are my issues...I'd like to work them out asap.

                                      • Joseph Wiseman
                                        Joseph Wiseman  2 weeks back

                                        Broski, I'm following you from Arcadia, FL., I have noticed that you have the same problem as me. My left is not as strong.
                                        I've been through a lot of injuries to my left, aside from recent injuries to the same side.
                                        There's a massive amount of scar tissue in my low back and I've torn my left shoulder and split my tendon in the same shoulder that connects the collar bone to the back."I don't know the name for the bones". But my shoulder my hip and my leg shake when I hit the heavy. All on left side since high school. What you've shown me my left is responding and soon I'll be a massive 5' 6" at 200.
                                        Thank you so very much.
                                        Much love,

                                        Joe Wiseman

                                        • Selman Noir
                                          Selman Noir  3 weeks back

                                          Extremely useful👌thanks

                                          • Alica Grebáčová
                                            Alica Grebáčová  3 weeks back

                                            What do i do when my upper abs are a LOT stronger than the rest? I also have strong glutes and have that pelvic rotation (which i actually didn’t have for a while but by doing butt excercises it developed again) Do you have any tips on that? I would love to know! It would help me a lot.. thank you

                                            • BeCoolHaveFun
                                              BeCoolHaveFun  3 weeks back

                                              Jeff, your content is second to none. I've learned an immense amount from these videos. Super appreciative of you posting! Respect

                                              • Kyle Wong
                                                Kyle Wong  3 weeks back

                                                Can we have a video addressing Red Flags for a Weak BACK? It's still a problem I have.

                                                • Matthew Flips
                                                  Matthew Flips  3 weeks back

                                                  So how do you strengthen your abs then

                                                  • Sentient Unknown
                                                    Sentient Unknown  3 weeks back

                                                    Very helpful

                                                    • Michael Pfister
                                                      Michael Pfister  3 weeks back

                                                      Jeff you can't wear Puma pants and Nike Shoes. ILLEGAL! Fashion police homie.

                                                      • Beard Cheese
                                                        Beard Cheese  3 weeks back

                                                        Don't ever rest your hand on your knee while the other one is on the ground.

                                                        • Chris Madden
                                                          Chris Madden  4 weeks back

                                                          3:10, the camera man can't believe Jessy's socks

                                                          • Ja'sean Adams
                                                            Ja'sean Adams  4 weeks back

                                                            I have a crease line one my lower abs and i use lotion everyday anyone know why and have a solution please

                                                            • Avenus112
                                                              Avenus112  4 weeks back

                                                              No it doesnt. It means you dont know how to get up without using your hands. Its a technical thing.

                                                              • Laura Cestero
                                                                Laura Cestero  4 weeks back

                                                                What if you have had c sections and your core is not only weak but completely numb :/ you naturally have your back or hips take over because you can’t focus your obliques? You can’t tell them to focus them :(

                                                                • Dena Hall
                                                                  Dena Hall  4 weeks back

                                                                  So are the corrective exercises the same as the tests?

                                                                  • HakAtIt
                                                                    HakAtIt  4 weeks back

                                                                    Wish I had found this 25 years ago!

                                                                    • Kevin Real
                                                                      Kevin Real  4 weeks back

                                                                      I watch a shirtless guy on YouTube more than I'm comfortable to admit

                                                                      • Olivia W
                                                                        Olivia W  4 weeks back

                                                                        In conclusion: my entire body is weak af and now I have no idea where to start great

                                                                        • C G
                                                                          C G  4 weeks back

                                                                          This is a huge help! I struggle with exhausting my hip flexors with leg raises! Also with crunches. I'll be working on this now that I see what I'm doing wrong!

                                                                          • hemanth krishna
                                                                            hemanth krishna  4 weeks back

                                                                            I did felt that 1st red flag many times while i did one of the leg raising exercise mentioned in that 22day 6 pack challenge video how to do the same exercise targeting only abs ???

                                                                            • K's anesthesia studio
                                                                              K's anesthesia studio  4 weeks back

                                                                              Your video provides much scientific knowledge about every exercise in perfect way.kindly post video of post rotator cuff operative exercise .

                                                                              • Weedak Widovski
                                                                                Weedak Widovski  4 weeks back

                                                                                I discovered that I have strong abs (I lough all the time), too bad Im borderline obese :(

                                                                                • Nick GC
                                                                                  Nick GC  4 weeks back


                                                                                  • Driver 1ne
                                                                                    Driver 1ne  4 weeks back

                                                                                    Excellent,abs explanation.

                                                                                    • Know 1squarter
                                                                                      Know 1squarter  4 weeks back

                                                                                      Very good info. Can’t get this info simply by googling.
                                                                                      But I have to quote Chris Tucker from money talks...”Maan, where your shirt at?”

                                                                                      • Andrew Jones
                                                                                        Andrew Jones  4 weeks back

                                                                                        Situps in jeans 😏😎👌

                                                                                        • frostkid08
                                                                                          frostkid08  1 months back

                                                                                          That cliffhanger is sumn serious