It has been said again and again (not only by me, although I do love saying it) that crunches may not be the smartest thing to do to train the abdominals. Now let’s get something clear. When I say “train”, it specifically means to train for its function. The abdominals are actually part of a group of muscles that we collectively call your “core”. For the past 20 or so years, the term “core training” has been used and overused widely (myself included) that it has been confusing a lot of people as to what the core truly is.
Is it just the abdominals?
Does it include the hips?
How about the chest and upper back?
How about the shoulders?
The term has evolved through the years and most trainers and practitioners commonly refer to the core as the trunk. Simply, take away your extremities including your head, then you are left with the core. this does include the hips and the shoulders and the chest and back as well as your abdominals of course.
Now that we know that, what is the core’s function, specifically the abdominals? I’ll tell you one thing, it’s not just flexion. In fact you only really use your abdominal muscles to flex your hip once or twice a day: when you get up from bed. This is why I almost never give crunches or sit ups as an exercise for the abdominals. Excess flexion of the lumbar spine (lower back) can lead to back pain and discomfort. What’s excess? Probably that set of 50 sit ups that you’re doing.
So what is it for, really? It’s mostly for stabilization and maintaining posture. Does that sound a little boring? If it does imagine the fastest man on earth, Usain Bolt. Have you seen this person sprint and how stable his torso is while his legs and arms are moving faster than anyone else in the world? Imagine if he didn’t have a strong core, he would not be able to maintain his motion and speed if his core was not strong enough to generate the movement and stable enough to stay in alignment and not lose speed. Now that’s not boring at all.
Now that we know what the core’s function is, how exactly do we train it? I do via stability exercises like the ones shown in this new video i made for my new YouTube Channel.
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