According to Dr. Stuart McGill, professor of spine biomechanics at the University of Waterloo (Waterloo, ON, Canada), “The traditional sit-up imposes approximately 730 pounds of compression on the spine.” (McGill, 88) This fact alone is enough to convince me to stay far away from crunches and all of its variations.
Unfortunately, Back extensions aren’t any better. Back extensions on the Roman Chair (45 degree bench with feet anchored) creates 890lbs of compression on the spine (McGill 91). In addition, floor exercises such as the “Superman” inflict over 1300lbs of spinal load and compression (McGill, 91). I would have to imagine that trunk flexion and extension have doubled as a great client retention program for Chiropractors and Physical Therapists.
The primary function of the core is to stabilize the spine and maintain optimal alignment between the pelvis and the spine. The core also helps to protect against excessive stress when the bodies extremities are in motion. This makes no sense to me of why the majority of gym goers insist on adding hundreds of crunches to train our abdominals? Well, it does make sense given the state of information in main stream magazines, infomercials and uneducated personal trainers.
Over the course of my video series I will provide alternatives to crunches and back extensions to build a strong and powerful core. Please note that the video series is in no particular order.
*Please consult with a physician or any other health care professional before randomly trying any of these exercises on your own. I will do my best to give progressions and things to be cautious about when necessary.
Part 7; (Turkish) GET UP
The Turkish Get Up is by far my favourite core exercise. Not only does it challenge the core from all the angles but it helps to improve mobility and stability. The Turkish Get Up – or, just Get Up, if you prefer – is one exercise that each and every one of my clients performs, whether they are a beginner or an experienced lifter. The Get Up has so much more to offer than your standard crunch because it doesn’t just isolate, it works the entire core musculature used to stabilize your body.
When you break it down into 6 simple steps (see video), you can see that the Get Up really has it all. Not only does it require abdominal strength to raise your torso off of the ground, but the side plank position forces you to stabilize your entire core. For your lower body, getting up off the ground and bringing yourself upright will target your internal & external hip flexors, while increasing your leg strength. Reversing the movement and bringing your self back down to the floor offers unparalleled benefits in honing your overall coordination and motor skills. Can a crunch claim the same? I didn’t think so.
Better still, you can easily make this a total body workout by adding a kettlebell, dumbbell or even a barbell to the mix. The added weight will improve your shoulder strength and, more importantly, stability by building up the surrounding connective tissues and the muscles of the rotator cuff to protect you from having to go see a surgeon.
Train Mind, Body & Spirit
Nathane L. Jackson cscs & kbts
WBFF Pro & VEGA Ambassador
Nathane Jackson conducts 1-on-1 and group training business in downtown Toronto, as well as offers a comprehensive International Online Coaching and Nutrition Program for general fitness and athletes, as well as special programs for golfers and physique competitors.
For more information about Nathane Jackson Fitness, please visit www.nathanejackson.com