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Conditioning

How to maintain flexible athletes

Brian Mackenzie provides a number of exercises to help you improve the condition of your lower back.

One of the most common sites of injury is the lower back. Injury in this region can be as a result of muscular imbalance, weak or inflexible muscles or poor posture. It makes sense, therefore, to identify a session that will work all these areas and develop the right level of conditioning for injury prevention.

Detailed below is a session of eight exercises which are to be performed slowly and smoothly and at no time should you be out of breath.

Sit Ups (Upper Abdominals)

  • Lie on your back with your legs bent, knees together and feet flat on the floor.
  • Rest your hands on your thighs
  • Sit up until the palms of your hands touch your knees
  • Return to the starting position
  • Perform the movements in a slow controlled fashion

Back Arches (Back)

  • Lie on you front with your legs crossed at the ankles, keep your feet firmly anchored to the floor
  • Hands and arms straight out in front of you
  • Raise your upper body off the floor, keep your neck in line with your spine
  • Hold for one second and then slowly lower to the floor

Reverse Curl (Lower Abdominals)

  • Lie on your back with your legs bent, knees together and feet flat on the floor.
  • Curl up the legs and buttocks off the floor
  • Return to the starting position
  • Perform the movements in a slow controlled fashion

Hip and Leg raise (Gluteals and hamstrings)

  • Lie on your back with knees bent, feet flat on the floor
  • Place your hands by your side
  • Raise hips and straighten one leg and hold for a second before lowering
  • Repeat with the other leg

Transversus Abdominis (Abdominal)

  • Place yourself in the kneeling position with your hands on the ground
  • Hips directly above the knees
  • Shoulders directly above the hands
  • Keep the spine in a natural position
  • Relax the abdominal muscles and let the tummy sag down
  • Gently pull your tummy button and the area below it towards your spine
  • Hold for 10-15 seconds and then relax

Short sit ups (Hip flexors and abdominals)

  • Lie on you back with knees bent, feet flat on the floor
  • Rest your hands lightly on the side of you head (not the back of your neck)
  • Raise your body so that your upper body is at 30-40 degree angle with the floor
  • Hold for one second before coming down slowly

Back Extensions (Back)

  • Sit on the floor with legs bent, feet flat on the floor
  • Position your hands on the floor behind you to take some of the weight
  • Raise your body off the floor so that your body is parallel with the floor
  • Hold for one second and slowly lower

Twisted Curl (Oblique Abdominals)

  • Lie on your back with your legs bent, knees together and feet flat on the floor.
  • Place the left ankle on the right knee with the left knee pointing away
  • Curl up the right shoulder to the left knee
  • Keep lower back on the ground
  • Return to the starting position
  • Perform the movements in a slow controlled fashion
  • Repeat with the other leg and shoulder

How Many and How Often?

Start at one set of ten repetitions. Each week increase the number of repetitions by two. When you reach twenty repetitions increase the number of sets by one and start again at ten repetitions.

The exercises should be performed two or three times a week and be incorporated into your training schedule.


Article Reference

This article first appeared in:

  • MACKENZIE, B. (2003) How to maintain flexible athletes. Brian Mackenzie's Successful Coaching, (ISSN 1745-7513/ 5 / September), p. 3-4

Page Reference

If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is:

  • MACKENZIE, B. (2003) How to maintain flexible athletes [WWW] Available from: https://www.brianmac.co.uk/articles/scni5a4.htm [Accessed

About the Author

Brian Mackenzie is a British Athletics level 4 performance coach and a coach tutor/assessor. He has been coaching sprint, middle distance and combined event athletes for the past 30+ years and has 45+ years experience as an endurance athlete.

Related Pages

The following Sports Coach pages provide additional information on this topic:

Stretching Stretching