Anti-Extension: The Secret To Really Strong Abs

man with six pack abs

Most people train their abs only in one way, with flexion exercise. Unfortunately, this leaves a lot on the table as most of the time, we just don’t use our abs that way!

The abdominal muscles main function in daily life is to stabilise, they often function not to create movement, but to restrict it. This is known as anti-extension.


Any time you put on a rucksack, you use your ab muscles. If they did not contract to resist spinal extension, then your torso would simply fold over backwards.

Any time you lift a weight over your head, your ab muscle contract in the same way, stabilising your torso and protecting your spine.

it is anti-extension that allows us to maintain the position of our hips and ribs relative to one another, allow for proper transfer of strength throughout our body. Our core muscles literally tie our upper body and lower body together.

So how can we make our bodies more stable?

How can we best improve our abdominal strength in a way that benefits our strength and athletic ability?

Train anti-extension.

Anti-Extension Exercises

The most commonly performed anti-extension exercise is the plank.

woman performing anti extension exercise plank


In the plank, you simply position yourself horizontally, with your weight on your forearms and feet. The entire objective of this exercise is to maintain a neutral spine.

This exercise is typically done for time, usually between 30 and 120 seconds. Weight can be added in the form of a weight plate positioned over the hips.

The plank is used in a variety of settings for a variety of reasons. You’ll see it performed in light gym classes and high-level weightlifting programmes alike.

Ab Wheel Roll Outs

ab wheel rollout: anti-extension abdominal exercise

This exercise takes core conditioning to a whole new level. Even the easiest variation of this exercise is quite challenging, and the hardest ones?

Well, I’ll admit. I can’t do them all.

You can start from your knees and roll out part way to start with. Over time you’ll be able to maintain a neutral spine while rolling out completely.

Then you can begin roll outs from your feet, this is much tougher.

Finally, you can do one-handed ab wheel rollouts with special (or homemade) ab rollers, Ross Enamait is a beast at these.

The ab wheel roll out is an abdominal exercise you can’t grow out of.

Try these anti-extension abdominal exercises to reach new levels of strength.

Until next time,


8 thoughts on “Anti-Extension: The Secret To Really Strong Abs

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    1. That normally means you’re dong it wrong, or you’re just not strong enough for it yet.

      Next time you try, make sure you keep your back flat and your bum tucked in, not out. You’ll definitely feel it in your abs then, and hopefully you won’t feel it in your back!

    1. Hey Edward,

      Yes, that’s not uncommon. In my experience training abs will always lead to better results even if you train them indirectly in lots of other exercises. We’ve all got a weak link and it’s often the core muscles! Glad you liked the article.


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