If I told you it’s possible to get six pack abs without doing a single sit-up of any kind would you believe me? Would you believe that you can reduce your back pain and even eliminate it without use of any sit-up? Would you believe me that the top trainers don’t have their clients do sit-ups or crunches any more?
All of the above is true. You can get six pack abs, reduce back pain, and Alwyn Cosgrove (one of the top functional trainers in the United States) doesn’t allow his clients perform crunches or sit-ups any longer due to the risks.
Back pain is plaguing Americans due to poor posture at work, heeled shoes, lack of exercise, and an booming obesity epidemic. Traditional sit-ups may actually help deteriorate your back and make it easier to injure. Hip mobility should also be looked at by an FMS (Functional Movement Screening) if you are experiencing low back pain to find all areas.
The purpose of your abs and core is to stabilize your body – the ab muscles, lower back, and lats protect your spine from over-flexion. In most sports, being able to stabilize your body is a key factor in success. Think of when you are running and need to stop suddenly, you brace your core. The same goes for everyday life – stepping off an uneven curb, your body will instinctually protect itself by bracing your core. If your core is weak, you are more prone to injury and the uneven curb may send you to the chiropractor.
Do sit-ups work?
Visually yes, functionally no. Let me explain, sit-ups and crunches are great for bodybuilders who are judged on individual muscle groups. If anything is out of scope for these guys, it means the difference between first and last place. Just because crunches and sit-ups visually improve your abs doesn’t mean they improve your bodies ability to stabilize itself. In fact, most recent research has proven these movements are detrimental to your back. Your body moves in three planes of motion, and the crunch and sit-up only perform in one plane. The top 5 ab movements listed below will help you stabilize your body in motion in all three planes, and help reduce or rid you of low back pain.
Training in a functional manner gives your abs a better overall appearance. In addition, functional core training ties your body together cohesively as one unit with everything working in synergy. Crunches and sit-ups just don’t give you synergy with the rest of your body.
I know science takes awhile to trickle down to regular folks and most of the time people resist change – but is it smart to ignore science when it proves your way doesn’t work?
So how do you build six pack abs without the crunch and sit-up?
What I’m about to show you is a smarter way to train your core and your abs via stabilization methods which should be at the core of any good workout program. The top exercises you can use to strengthen your abs in a functional training method. I recommend you add at least two of these in to your workouts three times a week.
1. Plank to Side Plank (progress from one to the other after you can successfully complete 30 seconds)
30 seconds x 2 sets.
2. Floor Bridge Hold to One Leg Floor Bridge Hold.
If you have trouble holding this for 30 seconds, you can go for reps. Aim for 30 seconds x 2 sets or 12-15 reps x 2 sets.
Keep legs out in front of you to form a perfect L shape for 30 seconds x 2 sets.
4. Swiss Ball Mountain Climbers.
30 seconds x 2 sets.
5. Walking Pushups.
10 per crossover x 2 sets.
Wood Chopper with medicine ball.
Some people use a cable machine but I’ve found a medicine ball gives a free range of movement and doesn’t yank back on you like some machines can do. Don’t go crazy with weight on this one. 12 per side x 3 sets.
Turkish Getup (advanced).
5 per side x 2 sets.
I don’t recommend doing the Turkish getup without proper supervision from a Kettlebell expert. It is a complicated move and takes many months to perfect even with light weights.
If you want to ensure you are taking care of your lower back and want to build six pack abs, check out one of our local Oklahoma City or Edmond are Bootcamps. Our certified trainers put you through a progressive bootcamp that doesn’t just burn off the fat, it builds your body with a scientific functional fitness method. Other trainers are random without a solid program and ‘wing it’ when directing workouts. That’s great if you want random results, come see us if you want professional bootcamp functional fitness.
Christian Henning, NASM-CPT
Oklahoma City Personal Trainer