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Strengthen Lower Back

I need to get my stomach flat and I cannot get on the floor or put pressure on my knees. What exercises can I do?

Tonja Davis (Lynnwood, WA) on Sep 25, 2012
There aren't many core exercises that cannot be done standing or sitting. You don't need to get on the floor, nor do you need to put pressure on your knees. You can do standing crunches, stability ball crunches, standing wood choppers, stability ball reaches, and many other exercises. Even the moving cat stretch can be done while standing. Any competent personal trainer can provide variations of any exercise to work within your ability and range of motion. One last point of note, please do not believe that doing crunches will get you a flat tummy or rock-hard abs. Spot reduction doesn't work. All-over body change is what is required to make change in specific areas. Also, what you eat is as important as what you do with your body. You can't out-exercise a poor diet.
Christie LaRue (Prosper, TX) on Sep 25, 2012
Start by evaluating your eating habits. Your abdominal muscles lie underneath the fatty tissue that we see on the surface. Your diet will be the number one predictor of whether or not you gain or lose abdominal fat. Genetics play a significant role as well. As far as exercises, there are many standing exercises that can provide strength and stability to your core and trunk. Try pushups with your hands on a wall or counter. Or try planks on a low counter or coffee table. Standing crunches are also effective. And don't forget to work the opposing muscles of the back as well.
Maurice Willingham (Carmel, IN) on Sep 25, 2012
Standing side crunches and Frankenstein walks.
Kenny Grant (New York, NY) on Sep 25, 2012
You definitely can still have that flat stomach. Here are three great exercises for you. First is the Cable Crunch Standing. Get a tricep rope, and hold it near your head. Then execute a standing crunch by bringing your ribs closer to your hips, crunching your abs. Second is a Hanging Leg Raise. Holding any type of pull up handles, keep your body as steady as possible. Raise both legs straight up to a 90 degree angle. Third is the Russian Twist. Taking a 10lb. medicine ball, sit on your butt with your feet on or off the ground and lean back slightly. Then twist your torso, taking the ball close to the ground on each side.
Lisandra McGrath (Chappaqua, NY) on Sep 25, 2012
You are in luck, as there are various standing ab exercises you can do. See this link ( for a few examples. Also, diet is key. All the ab exercises in the world will add up to nothing if you have a layer of fat covering up your abs.
Jessica Riley (Coeur D Alene, ID) on Sep 25, 2012
You can use a captain chair or a incline bench to do ab work.
Christian Cruz (Miami, FL) on Sep 25, 2012
Luckily for you, the best "stomach" exercises are actually not performed on the floor. Wood chops, lunges with twists and medicine ball slams are all much better options. These exercises also are full body and so you get more bang for your buck in terms of time spent training. For more info, contact me at
Corey Gill (Glendale, AZ) on Sep 25, 2012
Exercise alone will not get your stomach flat. Changing what you eat and being very disciplined with your nutritional choices is how you get a flatter stomach. You have to lose the body fat which is covering up your stomach. Exercise and proper diet combined will speed the results but being unable to put pressure on your knees would prevent you from many exercises (high intensity running, jumping, rowing, hiking, weight training). Start by eating lean meats and vegetables, and cutting out all fast food and/or processed food. I hope this helps. Contact me if I can be of any further assistance.
Michael Schletter (New York, NY) on Sep 25, 2012
Believe it or not, there is no such thing as "spot reduction" in exercise, so doing only ab exercises will not make your stomach flat. That being said, 5 of the highest calorie burn exercises (in terms of strength training) that do not put pressure on the knees are: -Dumbbell Bench Press (or any variation) -Pullup -Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press -Seated Row -Dumbbell Curl-to-Press In terms of cardio, your best bet is to ride the bike and do high intensity intervals if you are not taking a class. I highly recommend joining a boxing or Muay Thai gym and taking the classes there, as you can expect to burn 900 calories per hour (or more). "Cardio kickboxing" will only burn about 400 calories. You actually need to hit something in order to fully use your energy and deplete your glycogen stores (where we get the energy we use to exercise) enough to start burning fat for energy as opposed to sugars. Hope you find this helpful!
Michael Bistany (Salem, NH) on Sep 25, 2012
First, make sure you are eating a nutritious diet. Second, I would suggest moves like kettlebell swings and med ball slams for maximum caloric burn.
Josh Morrison (Mt Zion, IL) on Sep 25, 2012
Sit or stand with soft knees. Contract your abdominals as hard as you can for 5 seconds then relax for 5 seconds. Perform 15-20 times.
Doug Larsen (Hopkins, MN) on Sep 25, 2012
You may want to look at training with a stability ball. This can be a wonderful tool for certain individuals with mobility concerns. Sit on the ball, then let your body roll down the ball onto your back. Here you can do an assortment of crunch exercises and leg lifts. One concern in doing these would be your balance. Start slow and go from there.
Austra Bloms (Portland, OR) on Sep 25, 2012
It is OK if you are not able to get down to the floor level. There are alternative ways to get killer abs without putting pressure on your knees. Try using Swiss Balls, regular and incline benches, cable crossover machines, medicine balls, BOSU balls, and Versa Discs. Russian Twists would be a great exercise and your knees would be nowhere near the floor. You can do that exercise with a medicine ball, cable machine, Versa Disc, while standing or even sitting on a bench. Use Swiss balls for support in your lower back region. Sit on the ball and do crunches.
Graeme Buenaflor (Falls Church, VA) on Sep 25, 2012
Your best bet is to change your diet to lose the belly fat first. I feel that basic crunches are useless for most people, because their abdominal muscles have shortened due to excessive sitting. I would suggest doing core exercises that lengthen your abdominal muscles. However, good nutrition is the fastest way to a flatter stomach.
Andrew Lee (Richmond, VA) on Sep 25, 2012
There are tons of exercises you can do. But one thing people need to know is that there is no such thing as spot reduction. By this I mean you cannot say, "I want to lose my belly" and do hundreds of situps and expect it to happen. Anyone's best bet when it comes to toning and or weight management is to get on a correct well-rounded wellness program. This would include total body conditioning through weights and cardio, a nutritional plan, and taking a look at your current lifestyle and habbits. The best way to do this is to get advice from an expert. Just because there are thousands of trainers and blogs and people who think they know everything, does not mean they do. The best thing you can do is find someone you trust, do some relationship building with them to see if they are really authentic and want to help you achieve your goals. Hope this helps!
William Turner (New York, NY) on Sep 25, 2012
There are a number of ways to target the abs without having to get on the floor. I specialize in designing fitness programs for all my clients who have physical limitations. My most favorites is a seated cable crunch. Attach the long bar or rope attachment to a cable column. Move the cable column to its highest point to insure full (ROM) range of motion, both flexing and extending. Contract or tighten the abdomen as you pull the cable downward towards the mid-line or middle of your of your body. be sure to keep the elbows tucked inward as you pull down on the cable. This ensures a steady, controlled range of motion on the abdomen instead of the lower lumbar. -WIL Turner Copy Right Jan 30th, 2012-11:25AM
Christina Tyler (Indian Trail, NC) on Sep 25, 2012
The honest answer is, you can't get a flat stomach by doing any ab exercises. A flat stomach is completely dependent on what you eat. You have to eat lean and clean (lean meats and lots of fruits and veggies). Ab exercises only strengthen the muscles; they has absolutely nothing to do with flattening it out. When you see the girls with the flat, sexy six packs, they already have a flat stomach and are consistent with their exercise routines.
Jon McQueen (Vista, CA) on Sep 25, 2012
First off, there's no such thing as "spot reduction". Performing core/ab exercises will develop the muscles underneath the fat, but having a good training/cardio routine and nutrition plan will allow you to get the flat stomach you desire. If you have resistance bands (you can purchase these at any sporting good store or big box store), you can attach them to a door knob, door jamb, or anything sturdy, and use them to perform rotational exercises and standing crunches. These exercises will target the area in question and won't require you to be on the floor, hurting your knees. You will actually expend more calories because you aree standing, which requires more energy. I hope my advice helps. Good luck!
Deuce Witherspoon (Los Angeles, CA) on Sep 25, 2012
You can do stability ball crunches and pullovers with bands while on stability ball. Vacuum holds are also a good way to flatten the stomach without getting on the floor or on your knees.
Debra Denimarck (Centereach, NY) on Sep 25, 2012
Assuming your nutrition is sound, your strength training is done two or three times a week and your cardio regimen is on point, the next step would be to increase your overall core strength and stability. If you can't get down on the floor, use a bench. This will allow you to lay on your back and do "single leg raises" or "scissors". It puts no strain on your knees. To do the exercise, simply lie on your back and raise both legs up towards the ceiling, until your feet point straight up. Slowly lower one leg, and lift it back to the starting position along the other leg. Then slowly lower the opposite leg once the first one you lowered is up. If this is too easy, lower and lift both legs at the same time. I have many more bench exercises, so just ask for more details.
Anthony McElroy (Washington, DC) on Sep 25, 2012
Great question. The number one answer is that you must focus on proper nutrition to optimally burn and lose body fat and build and tone muscle. There is no way around this. This is the most effective way to get the abs and stomach muscles to show tone. Exercise-wise, ideally you should learn to activate and use your abdominal and core with every exercise regardless of the type of exercise or targeted body part. Learn to do this effectively and you can almost eliminate sit-ups and crunches altogether. Peace and blessings.
Seabron Page (Seattle, WA) on Sep 25, 2012
Monitor your diet and eat only whole foods. Lie supine (on your back), legs against the wall (legs 90 degrees against the wall) and curl your trunk from the floor. There's no pressure on knees. Reference would have to be given to your entire medical history of course, and to analyze joint range of motion, and your complete lifestyle habits.
Jef Wheeler (Beverly Hills, CA) on Sep 25, 2012
Not being able to get on the floor or put pressure on your knees is inconvenient and can be frustrating, but absolutely does NOT limit your ability to strengthen and flatten your core! Any firm surface above the floor that you can lay on is your first choice to replace the floor for core strength and tone. Second, and not to be ignored, is the possibility of firming, flattening and strengthening the core from sitting and standing positions. Your second choice changes torque thus decreasing intensity, however, adjustments can be made to satisfy your commitment to a stronger more shapely self in 2012! Contact me any time in January to find out more about my "HOW MUCH IS HEALTH, LONGEVITY AND FITNESS WORTH TO YOU? NAME YOUR PRICE, No reasonable commitment will be turned away!"
Ralph Arellanes (Albuquerque, NM) on Sep 25, 2012
There are many ways to engage your abdominal core without being on the ground and doing crunches and situps. Integrate your abs while doing exercises that you would do while standing and add rotational movements and imbalance exercises that require the activation of your abs and stabilizers. For example, axe chops with a medicine ball or the cable cross are a great way to fire your obliques, or horizontal chops to primarily activate your transverse abdominis muscle (think the Brad Pitt lower torso muscle) as well as the rectus abdominis. Instead of doing bent-over rows on a bench, do it while standing balance on one-leg in T-bend position. My personal favorite is a windmill with a kettlebell or a dumbbell, but can also be done with no weight at all. This is done while standing with weighted hand straight overhead. With the free hand at your leg, slowly bend at the hip towards the direction your foot is pointing (usually 10:00 for the left, 2:00 for the right) as much as your flexibility will allow. Ideally, you will be able to make a 90 degree right angle at your hip and torso relative to the floor. Then slowly raise back to standing. This one takes practice, but there are very few exercises that activate the lower distal posterior obliques aka the muffin top area. Hope that helps!
Al Chu (Woodside, NY) on Oct 14, 2012
There are different reverse crunches you can do on diagonal sit-up board or you could use a crunch machine. You can use cables to perform standing or seated crunches as well. But the real key to a flat belly, in addition to tightening up the muscles there, is to lose that extra fat through diet and extra calorie expenditure through activity. However, your stomach may still protrude to a degree even though you have little fat and are muscular there, if you have a spinal curvature, or tight muscles in your hip flexors or weak hop musculature.
Hubert Maloy (Greenville, SC) on Sep 28, 2012
There are a myriad of good ab/core exercises you can do without getting on the floor. I assume you sleep in a bed. Do your crunches in bed but be advised that crunches are far from being the best exercise for flattening your tummy. Prone and lateral planks, among the best exercises for getting the tummy back where it belongs, can be done using a low bench or chair - be sure to put it against a wall so it doesn't scoot from under you. If you have access to exercise tubing or a cable machine you can do standing crunches, torso rotation and a number of functional core exercises. Fundamental to all these, learn to vacuum and then brace (contract and hold the core stabilizers). You can find demonstrations and directions for both vacuuming and bracing on youtube. There is almost no exercise that should be done without bracing the core. All that said, what is your height, weight and body fat percent. Visceral fat will cause a pot and no exercises will get a flat tummy until you get rid of the visceral fat.
Franklin Antoian (Delray Beach, FL) on Sep 28, 2012
A flat stomach will come from a healthy diet. Use this calculator to estimate the number of calories you need. offers online diets to help you reach your fitness goals as well!