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 - http://athleanx.com/x/my-workouts
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Comments • 2 315

    ATHLEAN-X™   10 months back

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


    • toma ras
      toma ras  2 months back

      Jeff I love my yoga

    • BodhiLove
      BodhiLove  4 months 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  5 months back

      Oblique red flags plz?

    • kayden 88
      kayden 88  9 months back

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

    • Brad Eriksson
      Brad Eriksson  10 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

  • Europa Invictus
    Europa Invictus  1 weeks back

    6:20 I also think that when you contract your belly, you force your back to also straighten up more.

    • Drake Aamold
      Drake Aamold  1 weeks back

      God is good

      • jon
        jon  2 weeks back

        I don't need no red flags, Jeff, I know for a fact all my muscles are weak.

        • Asad Kh
          Asad Kh  2 weeks back


          • opwan
            opwan  3 weeks back

            Are those Hello Kitty Jessie is wearing?

            • kumbaon
              kumbaon  3 weeks back

              this channel is absolutely amazing

              • scRUAM
                scRUAM  3 weeks back

                I spent hours doing research on ab exercises by couldn’t do any of them without shaking and my erector and and hip muscles taking over and not a bit on my abs. I was literally enraged because I thought I was broken. I saw this video and learned how to activate my abs for the first time and can now do the other exercises as well much better. This is god send thank you so much.

                • skyjumper84 XRP
                  skyjumper84 XRP  3 weeks back

                  Turns out you were born wrong... you're here... I need you here...

                  • FromBeToReality
                    FromBeToReality  3 weeks back

                    THUMBS UP!!
                    then watch!!!

                    thanks to mister ax!
                    BECAUSE I. AM. VAIN. AND I MUST HAVE (NOT a flat stomach but) YUMMY-LOOKING ABS!!!

                    MUST HAVE THEM!!!!!!

                    • Qolorful
                      Qolorful  3 weeks back

                      Shit my core WEAK

                      • Salaheddine Cherrak
                        Salaheddine Cherrak  3 weeks back

                        the 3 planes thing I do it all the time 😂😂

                        • 从c5アλŋcӈλ从
                          从c5アλŋcӈλ从  3 weeks back

                          Jordan yeoh and Athlean-X™ these r the best youtubers who can help u to build abs fast 😘😘

                          • Taj Daswani
                            Taj Daswani  3 weeks back

                            9:35 “Antonio Brown, you’re in trouble”

                            • Zetsuke4
                              Zetsuke4  4 weeks back

                              Great info!

                              • Smash Ogre
                                Smash Ogre  4 weeks back

                                what... no face pulls??

                                • SUN light
                                  SUN light  4 weeks back

                                  the headline was so weak i felt my abs hurting as they go weak and me going insane cause of the weakness: this is my worst nightmare

                                  • Epik Hell Sword
                                    Epik Hell Sword  4 weeks back

                                    Funny I do lots of push ups, but my abs are weak 😂😂😂

                                    • Bill Collins
                                      Bill Collins  1 months back

                                      I know i have weak abs because my body shakes and convulses under flexion.

                                      • Thør
                                        Thør  1 months back

                                        Thank you

                                        • Jeanette Omar
                                          Jeanette Omar  1 months back

                                          Is it possible to have strong abs even if my abs doesn’t show? This could only mean my fat percentage is high, am I right?

                                          • Joshua Knuth
                                            Joshua Knuth  1 months back

                                            Yes but you want to be able to feel them through your bellyfat if you contract them

                                        • Froscity
                                          Froscity  1 months back

                                          *wakes up in the morning and gets out of bed*

                                          jeff: you're doing it wrong, go strengthen your abs

                                          • 01 Waldgeist
                                            01 Waldgeist  1 months back


                                            • José Pérez
                                              José Pérez  1 months back

                                              Damn Jeff. This video is fantastic

                                              • Georg F
                                                Georg F  1 months back

                                                Check, check, check, check and check.

                                                • ESMI HENSON MEDINA
                                                  ESMI HENSON MEDINA  1 months back

                                                  the Demo guy is an epitome of what not to do....

                                                  • Oceanlabree S
                                                    Oceanlabree S  1 months back

                                                    9:34 story of Antonio browns career as of late....we want to make sure he can hold positions=\

                                                    • Kim Stuart
                                                      Kim Stuart  2 months back

                                                      welp.....you could have just started with number 4. I was sort of like ahhhhh 1-3 COULD BE....im not sure I do it all the time!.....I will keep a mental note next time. Then number 4 hit....and i shrivled up inside.

                                                      • Vikki Gaines
                                                        Vikki Gaines  2 months back

                                                        🤯❤👍👏 ...meaning, I didnt realize the impact of hip flexors compensating for abs and how to prevent it. I love the use of standing ab isometric exercises as I have chronic knee pain. Being on the ground sucks. My old one also included trunk rotation while in a plank and that irritated my back. So this is a def bonus find. Thank you!

                                                        • Michael Williams
                                                          Michael Williams  2 months back

                                                          half my body weight sounds harsh, 180lbs... working on it tho

                                                          • ArtumTsumia
                                                            ArtumTsumia  2 months back

                                                            This just helped me identify weakness in the form of some of my ab routines. I'd previously just thought that my legs were weak and getting tired first, instead it seems my form on some exercises is weak and I've been doing them incorrectly. Time to get back to basics.

                                                            • DARK WIM
                                                              DARK WIM  2 months back

                                                              It very helpful

                                                              • Lidija Cullen
                                                                Lidija Cullen  2 months back

                                                                I got off the floor, no hands no knees - regained a little self respect.

                                                                • Uncle Based
                                                                  Uncle Based  2 months back

                                                                  the one about how you can't get up cause your abs are weak is kinda bs, because it has more to do with how you get up. If you can't get up using the same technique as the guy i n the video is doing, you are weak. But if you are someone who has been using your hand to get up your whole life, you may not get the technique right. For example, it's nearly impossible to stand up if you're sitting on your ass with your feet pointed in front of you (with knees bent). What I'm trying to say is, it's more about technique than ab strength.

                                                                  • Ty 4rozzi
                                                                    Ty 4rozzi  2 months back

                                                                    I have all these issues. I didnt test the last few plane tests but everything else I have going on. What exercize should i do if i have no pullup bar or equipment?

                                                                    • Bood Hernandez
                                                                      Bood Hernandez  2 months back

                                                                      Jeff sleeps standing up because it’s more athletic.

                                                                      • T 1
                                                                        T 1  2 months back

                                                                        Sounds like my boxing coach if i cant take a 50. Cal bullet to the abs without flinching my core is weak

                                                                        • Eduardo Villamar
                                                                          Eduardo Villamar  2 months back

                                                                          Or I’m just a bit fat 💀

                                                                          • lightning boi
                                                                            lightning boi  2 months back

                                                                            Jesse went from beta to alpha

                                                                            • Robin Karlsten
                                                                              Robin Karlsten  2 months back

                                                                              Now this is good. I've always considered myself strong in my core and abs. I can pass all the test exercises. But I still have the bloated lower abs. I've always focused on the "full contraction burn" when doing ab exercises. Gonna try to focus on sucking the fat in instead and see if there will be any difference.

                                                                              I have noticed that after a tough core workout I usually end it with the classic plank. And usually I find myself pressing alot on my lower spine. After a few weeks of this I might be able to resist it. You just earned yourself a subscription!

                                                                              • Shannon Ann
                                                                                Shannon Ann  2 months back

                                                                                You're bearded assistant is hot. He needs some sweat pants though.

                                                                                • Kirokill
                                                                                  Kirokill  2 months back

                                                                                  My abs might be the only thing in my body that’s okay
                                                                                  No red flags

                                                                                  • umesh hemanth
                                                                                    umesh hemanth  2 months back

                                                                                    Music at the start of every video is irritating

                                                                                    • Um Motoqueiro na America
                                                                                      Um Motoqueiro na America  2 months back

                                                                                      JESSE! WTF IS THAT WALT DISNEY TATTOO? LOL

                                                                                      • Elbis Reyes
                                                                                        Elbis Reyes  2 months back

                                                                                        421 personal trainers about to be out of a job

                                                                                        • tareq ramadan
                                                                                          tareq ramadan  2 months back

                                                                                          99 flags lol

                                                                                          • lokesh reddy
                                                                                            lokesh reddy  2 months back

                                                                                            how to add abs to push pull legs split

                                                                                            • Scenlo Kemp
                                                                                              Scenlo Kemp  2 months back

                                                                                              Do it everyday.... Jeff has already covered that

                                                                                          • random booster101
                                                                                            random booster101  2 months back

                                                                                            I dropped at the extended plank test.