With most abdominal exercises I tend to get a pain in my back. I've been looking all over for exercises that are hard on the abdomen, but; easy on the back.

Whenever I find some reference to an exercise that 'should' be easy on my back it feels very awkward and painful to perform.

What are some abdominal exercises that have the possibility to add more weight/resistance that are less likely to hurt my back?

  • 2
    It is unclear what you are asking for. Without specific examples what you mean by "weird and awful to perform" and which exercises you've already tried, it is hard to give you alternatives.
    – Baarn
    Aug 27, 2013 at 7:31
  • 2
    The abdominal exercises in this answer should be easy on the back. You can add weights with the dying bug and bird dog exercises and you back should still be ok. Aug 27, 2013 at 9:20
  • Any reason why you require weights? There are a lot of bodyweight exercises that give you a very intense ab workout, like L-Sits, Hanging Leg Raises or Planks. Aug 27, 2013 at 11:30
  • will try the plank and bird dog exercise, thanks
    – JMan
    Aug 27, 2013 at 11:37
  • 3
    I think you should focus on strengthening your back then, planks are a good thing to start with, but have a look at specific back exercises like superman and back hyper-extensions, too.
    – Baarn
    Aug 27, 2013 at 14:19

3 Answers 3


There is an entire science to your question, called "anti" workouts. The main goal of the core is to resist tension, not flex or bend, which is why your back might hurt. If done correctly, this shouldnt put ANY pressure on your back(if it is you arent doing it right).

Anti-extension- Resisting extension, vertical pallov press, ab wheel rollout, deadbug

anti-lateral flexion- side plank, side pallov press, suitcase carry/deadlift, one armed farmers walk

anti rotation- landmine twist, pallov press, one armed dumbbell bench

transverse abdominus- plank, ab wheel rollout(use a barbell to add resistance), hollow hold, deadbug, zercher squat hold(hold barbell in crooks of arms standing up for 10 seconds)

off-weighted exercises(doing a dumbbell shoulder press with one arm, dumbbell bench press, or deadlift with weight on one end).Off weighted exercises work the core great. you can make a bigger weight difference between the two sides to increase ab tension. All of the above can have weight added to them with exception of side plank. For one These are all exercises to resist actually bending. mix a fair amount of isometric and dynamic versions(holding a pallov press for 30 seconds, versus doing 15 reps for example).

Also if your back is hurting, even during regular ab exercises, you probably have very bad form and need to check your pelvic floor/posterior tilt, etc.. there is enough to write 20 to 30 pages here, but you really need to research this and possibly get a fitness trainer/physical therapist to make sure you arent injuring yourself. that being said, all the anti exercises 100% wont hurt your back


Learn how to do pull ups with a hollow body by contracting your abdomen when you pull.

Then hang a plate with dipping belt over your legs and keep doing hollow body pull ups.

This way you strengthen both your back and your abdomen at the same time.

Also apparently hollow body pull ups/chin ups have the highest abdominal activation across all the exercises tested in this list

I suspect front levers would be even better though.


In order to save your back you want to train your abs isometrically. Goblet squats train the rectus abdominis very well. Push-ups are also good. Single arm kettlebell deadlift trains the obliques very well. Zercher squats are also supposed to train the rectus abdominis + obliques very well.

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