Early on in my training career, I heard another personal trainer state that you are only as strong as your core. What he meant was that in the gym you have a bench that provides you lumbar support, but in everyday life you don't have a bench to support you when you lift something heavy. Your core is the bench. Your biceps might be huge, but if you have a weak core you are at risk to injure yourself when you lift something cumbersome outside of the gym. I'm not knocking large biceps. If the sun's out, guns out! Just make sure you have the strong core to match.
Allow me to elaborate on what the core actually entails. It's not just the rectus abdominus (the six-pack). The core is actually, as many would argue, everything except your limbs. Another way of looking at it is the core includes all the muscles that support your posture. This includes the abs, of course! However, we must not forget about the obliques, the transverse abdominus (underneath the six-pack, deeper towards the spine), the erector spinae (lower back), the glutes, the multifidi along the spine, the pecs, the traps, the rhomboids, the lats, and the shoulder girdle..... OH MY!
Without launching into an anatomy lesson, let me just skip to the moral of the story. Don't skip planks! The plank hold, when performed correctly, activates the core muscles. Keep those muscles activated throughout your strength training workouts to protect your back. If you do nothing else, then at least start doing planks! I will admit they are my nemesis. I do not enjoy them, but I still do them. They are necessary!
I have put together three "ab" videos so that you can choose the appropriate video based on your fitness level. I snuck some overall core work in there, too! All you need is an exercise mat, preferably a cushioned one.
If you are a beginner, then start with level one. Go at your own pace, and take rest when you need it.
If level one doesn't challenge you, then move to level two. Remember that if it doesn't challenge you, then it doesn't change you.
If you have been working out regularly for awhile and need more of a challenge, then try level three.
No matter what level you are at, please exercise caution. Listen to your body. If something doesn't feel right, then don't do it. Don't try to work through lower back pain. If you are feeling fatigue or pain in your lower back, then modify as needed. Always protect your back. Don't try to progress too fast. The key is to be able to do these exercises with great precision and control. Consistency is vital to achieve results, and it is impossible to have consistency if you injure yourself. Be patient and keep working!
As I mentioned earlier, abs can be made in your living room and uncovered in the kitchen. I'm excited to announce that I now offer meal planning. If you've already got a six pack, but you need help with your diet to uncover those rock-hard abs, then check out my meal planning options. Contact me for a FREE consultation at firstname.lastname@example.org.