Although the majority of people continue to rely on exercises like sit ups and crunches when it comes to training the abdominals, research has proven that these movements place excessive loads on the lower back, leading to a lot of pain for a lot of people. Repeated, loaded spinal flexion is one of the leading causes for disc herniation.
In fact, the traditional old school, slow speed sit up has been shown to place 730 pounds of compression on the spine! Other commonly used ab exercises place over 1,000 pounds of compression on the spine!
Boy, do I wish I knew all this in my teens and early 20’s when I did thousands of spinal flexion exercises per week, eventually leading to two herniated discs.
Not only are you risking long term back problems by doing all those sit ups, crunches, and all their useless variations but you are not even providing optimal stimulus to the abdominals. Research has proven that bracing actually trains the abs much more effectively than spinal flexion. To properly employ this technique you need to brace your abs as hard as you can like you are preparing to take a punch. You don’t push your abs out and you don’t suck them in. Sucking them in and trying to activate your transverse abdominis is a mistake if you want to lift heavy weights safely. You simply want to tighten and flex the abs as hard as possible. Be sure that there are no energy leaks and that your entire core is braced tightly. You can have a partner poke you or lightly whack you with a stick from different angles to ensure optimal bracing.
Not too many times in real life will you consciously flex your spine and contract your abs like you do in a crunch, so why bother doing it in the gym? If you are on your back in most athletic endeavors, it’s probably because someone put you there. It’s usually not where you want to be (unless you’re an MMA fighter). So why try to train your abs in that position?
Stop wasting your time and destroying your lower back with traditional ab training and instead focus your energy on the exercises listed below and their many variations.
Be sure to train without a belt, brace the abs and contract the glutes as tightly as possible when doing any standing exercises (and never do seated exercises). This will lead to optimal abdominal development and the avoidance of lower back injuries.
Pushup and it’s many variations
Power Wheel Rollout
Train smart and stay healthy,
PS. For more great ab training info check out HowToGetRippedAbs.com