T Nation

Dealing with Abdominal Strain - Help Please


Tomorrow (Friday the 17th) will be the 1 week mark for me having strained my rectus abdominis.

I was doing ab wheel roll outs and at full extension I heard two pops side by side in my lower abdomen. I had it checked out to make sure there was no hernia, and there isn't. However, doctors always seem to be very cautious in how they advise you to rest and what you can do when you start lifting again. In my doctors words I am to be completely inactive for 2 weeks and slowly return to activity after that using the exercise list she gave me. The most challenging thing on there is a 3 by 10 of crunches.

I'd like to hear what you guys think as far as going back when I feel ready versus staying out the full 2 weeks and how much intensity I should put in when I return. Anyone who has had a similar injury, any input you can give is also greatly appreciated



I had this happen to me, but it sounds like you have it worse. I couldn't do any split squats or regular squats since that aggravated the problem. Besides that, I didn't have any other problems.


I try to avoid compressive loading as much as I can, I have some back issues as well. I usually do DB lunges or step ups. How long were you unable to split squat/squat?


Are you some sort of athlete?

If you aren't going to be doing much compressive loading like heavy deadlifts or squats, I dont see the need to be doing ab-wheel rollouts to full extension. You are kinda training for something you'll never need to use.

Here is my advice.

1) Listen to the dr. If you heard "pops" and strained it, take the time to let it recover. And take it easy when you get back into it. And extra couple of weeks getting back into things is much better than a serious injury that could put you out for 6+ months.

2) If you aren't going to be squatting deadlifting much, find some exercises that are good alternatives.

-Maybe look into belt squatting. I have never done it myself, but it looks like a great exercise for someone with limitations. Im sure you gym doesn't have one, but you may be able to find a way to rig something up with bands or with a cable machine and a belt or something.

-Look into sled pulling/pushing. I still deadlift and squat, just with less volume, and have added sled work to really work my legs without putting too much stress on my back.

Hope this helps.


I'm rolling the idea around of tossing the ab wheel all together and sticking to plank variations. But I'm still a little unsure of which camp I fall into as far as planks go, whether or not they are hugely underrated or hugely overrated. I've been able to use them pretty well for super setting or a burnout exercise, but is it really a suitable exercise for something as demanding as the ab wheel?

If anyone has ideas on other ways to train abs in a similar fashion while not putting too much wear and tear on the spine over time I am certainly very open to suggestion. (My back issues are a muscular nature and slowly getting better, the discs are all good, and I'd like to keep them that way)

If it helps at all my split is - on top of whatever I do in a day I do two core exercises for 4 to 5 sets to failure.

Mon - Pushing (Core Work - Gorilla up / BW Hyper extension)
Tue - Pulling (Ab Wheel / cant remember name but it's comparable to a pallof press, but pull the cable across my body while still bracing my core)
Wed - Arms/Legs (Weighted side plank / BW Reverse hyper)
Fri - Pulling
Sat - Pushing
Sun - Arms/Legs


A couple of questions.

1)you say "mon-pushing (core work -gori..........." Does that mean you are doing something like bench, incline bench, etc...? And then ending the workout with abs?

2) Again, why do you think you need so much ab strength?

You aren't able to train your back because of your issues, so why add more and more ab work? Like I said above, they only need to be so strong.

Planks are a good exercise but they aren't going to do crap for strength for someone that is able to do an ab wheel (Although maybe you shouldn't have been using the ab wheel in the first place)

I guess what im getting at is this: WHAT ARE YOU HOPING TO ACCOMPLISH BY HAVING "ABS OF STEEL"?

Do you think all this ab training is going to lead to a six pack?
Do you think extra ab work will help your back?

Im not trying to be a dick, Im just wondering what your reasoning is.


The lifts for that day were bench, db shoulder press, lateral raise, front raise - core work. As far as what I'm trying to accomplish, just trying to avoid weak links, especially in such a vital area of the body. My back problem was initially brought on by neglecting to train my midsection and legs hard/frequently enough but as I said it's slowly getting better. As far as a six pack goes, I sure wouldn't mind one but I'm just not willing to do the cutting just yet, 'cause up until this point the gains have been pretty consistent. Maybe next time I plateau I'll start cutting and see whats under there lol.


Looking back on my logs, I had been doing the ab wheel since 10/29/08. Don't you think my body would be fairly accustomed to it and if I were gonna' get injured it would have happened sooner.

I have tinkered with other ab movements, going mostly from dynamic movements to isometrics - example being I used to do a lot of side bends but now I do the weighted side planks. Do you think maybe I set myself up for this by doing so, or maybe it's just a weird accident I dunno'.


It could be anything from overtraining, not warming up, or maybe some sort of imbalance or mobility problem.


If I can find a good strength coach/physical therapist in the area I'm probably going to get an evaluation done.


It is for this reason why I am not fond of using an ab wheel. It doesn't feel like a natural movement along with the way the stress is imposed on the abdominals. I hope your situation gets better, be grateful it's not a hernia.