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 • 2 324

    ATHLEAN-X™   11 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  3 months back

      Jeff I love my yoga

    • BodhiLove
      BodhiLove  5 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  6 months back

      Oblique red flags plz?

    • kayden 88
      kayden 88  10 months back

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

    • Brad Eriksson
      Brad Eriksson  11 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

  • Fabio Reyes
    Fabio Reyes  20 hours back

    I thought the title said weak af

    • LiquidJFunk
      LiquidJFunk  2 days back

      Hey Jeff, how about a video on how to improve the quality of Pull Ups? Thanks in advance Jeff.

      • Rienzi Trento
        Rienzi Trento  3 days back

        Great video. Just a question is , on top of following your programs doing a challenge such as 100 burpees every da for a month any good . Even on the rest days? Or is that going over the “top”

        • oioi
          oioi  4 days back


          • Kristi R
            Kristi R  5 days back

            Apparently I've been doing sit-ups incorrectly for 15 years 😣

            • SGT.Finley Sideways864

              I finally have a muscle group worth of Jeff’s standard haha

              • DIGGS
                DIGGS  1 weeks back

                Wow i have all of these problems 😆

                • Never Beaten
                  Never Beaten  2 weeks back

                  Lol these dont usually work for women. Our upper body strength is lower. Also i carry 2kg boobs. For down body we are better than men. Easier to do many things

                  • Blake Young
                    Blake Young  2 weeks back

                    What is your opinion on vacuuming?

                    (Not cleaning )

                    • I commented • 7 years ago

                      Jeff tenses jaw when he brushes his teeth.

                      • RITESH MISRA
                        RITESH MISRA  3 weeks back

                        1red flag, weak transverse abdominas

                        • D'Anna C
                          D'Anna C  3 weeks back

                          Jesse: I'm doing this video in black jeans...
                          Jeff: RED FLAG...

                          • Salvatore Hayes
                            Salvatore Hayes  4 weeks back

                            That What It Was. The Hip Flexes. That Why I Feel A Burn There More Than Anything In Every Ab Exercise I Do!!! I Can Get Up From Floor Without Using My Hands. But It Looks Pretty Funny 😂. Those cliff hanger planks. RIP.

                            • EijsTECH
                              EijsTECH  4 weeks back

                              I love this man!

                              • Drake Aamold
                                Drake Aamold  1 months back

                                God is good

                                • jon
                                  jon  1 months back

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

                                  • Asad Kh
                                    Asad Kh  1 months back


                                    • opwan
                                      opwan  2 months back

                                      Are those Hello Kitty Jessie is wearing?

                                      • kumbaon
                                        kumbaon  2 months back

                                        this channel is absolutely amazing

                                        • scRUAM
                                          scRUAM  2 months 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  2 months back

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

                                            • FromBeToReality
                                              FromBeToReality  2 months 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  2 months back

                                                Shit my core WEAK

                                                • Salaheddine Cherrak
                                                  Salaheddine Cherrak  2 months back

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

                                                  • 从c5アλŋcӈλ从
                                                    从c5アλŋcӈλ从  2 months back

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

                                                    • Taj Daswani
                                                      Taj Daswani  2 months back

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

                                                      • Zetsuke4
                                                        Zetsuke4  2 months back

                                                        Great info!

                                                        • Smash Ogre
                                                          Smash Ogre  2 months back

                                                          what... no face pulls??

                                                          • SUN light
                                                            SUN light  2 months 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  2 months back

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

                                                              • Bill Collins
                                                                Bill Collins  2 months back

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

                                                                • Thør
                                                                  Thør  2 months back

                                                                  Thank you

                                                                  • Jeanette Omar
                                                                    Jeanette Omar  2 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  2 months back

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

                                                                  • Froscity
                                                                    Froscity  2 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  2 months back


                                                                      • José Pérez
                                                                        José Pérez  2 months back

                                                                        Damn Jeff. This video is fantastic

                                                                        • Georg F
                                                                          Georg F  2 months back

                                                                          Check, check, check, check and check.

                                                                          • Esmi Medina
                                                                            Esmi Medina  2 months back

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

                                                                            • Oceanlabree S
                                                                              Oceanlabree S  2 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  3 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  3 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  3 months back

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

                                                                                    • ArtumTsumia
                                                                                      ArtumTsumia  3 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  3 months back

                                                                                        It very helpful

                                                                                        • Lidija Cullen
                                                                                          Lidija Cullen  3 months back

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

                                                                                          • Uncle Based
                                                                                            Uncle Based  3 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  3 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?