Why the Hell are You?
I thought I’d start an occasional theme in my blog dedicated to those poor souls I see visit the gym I work at. Once in a while I might be able to have an effect on these misguided people, but often they’re so bought in to what they’re doing that they’re beyond help.
So it is with great pleasure (and a lot of pent up frustration) that I introduce the first of an occasional rant…. Err I mean series –
Why the Hell are You?….
This week we’re asking “Why the Hell are You – Still doing Crunches?
Maybe it’s because you want to lose fat from that area?
Or maybe it’s because you want a stronger midsection?
Or maybe because the idiot trainer you use hasn’t looked at a book on exercise since 1995? Let alone a great website such as GetMightyNow.com.
As many of you will no doubt know, there are many things in the fitness industry which piss me off but this is right up there. Not only is this a really crappy exercise, which does little to strengthen the mid-section, but it’s also, according to Dr Stuart McGill, very dangerous.
I have to admit that I find it hard to perceive of this crappy little exercise as being dangerous, it’s so easy to perform I really can’t see how enough force can be developed to make this dangerous, but Professor McGill seems to think so and he’s the expert.
But, I hear you cry, I do them on a Swiss Ball that changes things right? Big deal, that reduces the maximum number of reps one could perform down to 1500 from over 2000 from the variation performed off the floor but it hardly makes it a worthwhile exercise.
But Chris, what’s wrong with Crunches? I can really feel the burn when I do them!
Well, where to start? The range of motion is insufficient; and what movement there is occurs in the wrong place, extreme flexion.
Next the level of force is insufficient; hence the massive number of reps which can be performed. If literally thousands of reps can be performed then what’s the point? You might as well go for a walk.
And finally the burn you feel is merely acidosis; which doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re stressing the muscle. If you were to flex your bicep and hold that position for 30 seconds then acid would build in your bicep but you have very little force being developed therefore the body has no need to adapt.
Another point to bear in mind is that the Abs are predominantly a fast twitch muscle, which mean they respond best to high loads, and relatively low reps.
So what should you do?
Well for a start you should perform a balanced programme like those outlined in my eBook Becoming Mighty. Your priority should be on performing the big movements such as Squats, Deadlifts, Presses, etc. When these higher priority movements have been performed then perform Ab work.
The Ab exercises I recommend are Overhead Ab Pulldowns, Knee / Leg Raises, progressing to using heavy medicine balls, and finally Pikes. These drills work the Abs really well along with creating a traction effect on the spine, which after you’ve performed heavy Squats, or Deadlifts you’ll learn to appreciate. What more could you want?
Other Ab movements I prescribe are Planks and their variations, of which there are many, and Roman Chair Sit Ups. With all that you need never perform a Crunch again.