If you want a lean midsection, sit-ups and crunches are not a good choice.
Many people go to the gym because they want to improve the way they look.
Who can blame them? Look good, feel good.
The only issue is the amount of outdated and misinformation that surrounds the industry.
The problem is that the main sources of information come from studies and the media, neither of which paint the whole picture.
Scientists work in a lab and reference textbooks. They do not (usually) actually train individuals and the research suffers because of it.
The same goes for the media. They do not train people. They try to make money through whatever strategy is going to get them the most.
Some guy that’s on a bunch of steroids and lifts as his full time job says that he got that way using resistance bands? I don’t think so.
Most people live in the real world. They need to train accordingly.
The following reasons are why training with trunk flexion is not going to yield defined abs.
1. The real goal has not been identified.
“I want a 6 pack.”
Great! How are you going to do that?
People first think that it involves an ab machine, or thousands of reps of crunches.
98% of the time 6 pack seekers have excess abdominal fat covering the musculature.
If you have done any kind of training in the past, the abs are developed and down there.
The goal really needs to become fat loss. Lose the fat and the abs will emerge.
What is the best strategy for fat loss? Diet and exercise.
The goal has now changed from “get a 6 pack” to “stop drinking so many six packs and exercise 4 times a week.”
The real goal for people that want to get abs is to lose fat by eating better. Cut out sugary drinks, eat protein with every meal, and eat a cup of vegetables with every meal are a couple of ways to start.
You can do as many Russian twists as you want but the obliques will never be visible if there is too much fat in the way.
2. Crunches and situps are inefficient ways to train the abs.
Ok so your diet is dialed in, it is time to develop the muscles.
The best way to activate the abdominal muscles is through stabilization exercise. Situps and crunches activate the hip flexors more than the abs.
Chances are if you are reading this article you could give a crap less about your iliopsoas.
When we talk abs, the muscles discussed are the rectus abdominis and obliques.
The best way to activate the obliques is through side planks. Just make sure the body is in a straight line because the psoas is firing if the hips are flexed.
Activating the rectus abdominis is done through a number of great ways. One is the farmer’s carry. Hold two heavy (really heavy) dumbbells and walk as far as you can with them. Stand tall to keep good posture.
I also like to use paloff presses, front planks, and physioball stabilization exercises to train core stability.
3. Your torso was not designed to flex.
I talked yesterday about why the spine should not flex.
The muscles of the core were also not designed to flex.
Look at the rectus abdominis compared to the biceps.
Obviously these mucles do not look alike. The rectus resembles a bead like structure with connective tissue separating difference parts, while the biceps is a long “tube” of muscle.
The biceps is meant to flex by pulling one end to the other end.
The rectus on the other hand is meant to stabilize and resist movement. It can flex the torso but that is not its role. That is where the old school logic comes in that all muscle move things.
Many are meant to stabilize.
If the rectus was meant to flex it would look like a bicep and not have the structure that it does.
The real function of the rectus is anti extension. When it braces, it forces the body to resist going into an extended posture.
The obliques are also interesting. Each side had internal and external obliques that oppose each other. That is in place to resist rotation. Anti rotation is the true function of the obliques.
Sit-ups and crunches are not a good strategy to train for a lean midsection.
If that is your goal, then the diet needs to become number 1 priority. Once that is settled then use more effective means to train the muscles.
Successful fat loss is the combination of diet and exercise and I want to give you a leg up by using smart exercises.
Forget about traditional exercises and start getting more from your programs.