If you’ve been paying attention to developments in six-pack science over the last half-decade, you already know that situps are on the way out: curling your spine dozens of times isn’t necessarily the best plan for lower-back health, and it’s not really training your core to do what it’s designed for (helping you stay stable in any conditions) anyway.
The plank is the obvious upgrade, but you can do better: once you can manage two minutes in the classic straight-body, forearms-to-the-floor position, you’d be better off spending any more time working on other moves.
Situps are on the way out: curling your spine dozens of times isn’t necessarily the best plan for lower-back health
Enter the ‘Dead Bug’. Used by Pilates teachers and NFL athletes alike, it’s a seemingly-simple move that forces you to engage your core and keep it under control, protecting your spine as you move the rest of your body – master it, and you’ll be better at everything from five-a-side to stuffing your bag in an overhead locker.
To do it, lie on your back with your arms pointing straight up in the air, bending your knees and hips to a 90-degree angle. Tighten your abs and press your lower back into the floor, then take a deep breath in. As you breathe out, slowly extend your left leg toward the floor and bring your right arm overhead so that it almost touches the floor, then come back to the start position and repeat on the other side. For a slightly tougher variation, keep your palms pressed against a wall behind you throughout the move.
You’ll feel weak at first, but give it a few sessions – soon, you’ll have a stronger core than ever.