Are crunches causing you back pain?
Typical floor crunches train mostly the upper part of your rectus abodminis, which most of the time is already too tight. Dr. Stuart M. McGill a Professor of Spine Biomechanics and one of the most famous scientists on this topic. After studying how the spine works for more than three decades, Dr. McGill has come to loathe sit-ups. It doesn’t matter whether they are the full sit-ups beloved by military trainers or the crunch versions so ubiquitous in gyms. “What happens when you perform a sit-up is that the spine is flexed into the position at which it damages sooner.”
My Favorite Ab Exercises
The following are my 2 favorite and only targeted exercises for ab training.
1. Dragon Flags. Your rectus abdominis (six-pack) in combination with your external obliques (side abs) act as stabilizing muscles which are responsible for keeping your torso aligned with your lower body. Dragon Flags are the best exercise I have encountered so far to work not only your abs, but also your whole core. Of course, this is not an easy exercise and you need to build it up very carefully. Start with leg raises and slowly through time use the progressions in the exercise menu post to work yourself up to the famous Dragon Flag. It personally took me a year to get 5 clean reps – so take it easy 😉
10 Best Exercises For Weight Loss Photo Gallery
2. One arm-push ups – the side ab exercise. You might be asking, “how the hell are one arm push-ups going to work my side abs?” Besides being an awesome exercise for your shoulders, arms and chest, it is also a good rectus abdominis exercise and an even greater oblique (side ab) exercise. Your obliques need to work very hard to keep the body from rotating due to the lack of stability by balancing only on one arm. The first time I started working on one arm push ups, I woke up the next day feeling as if someone had punched me on the side of my stomach. Sure it’s a difficult exercise and not ideal for beginners, but you can work on progressions and gradually build it up.
Stretching Facts & Fallacies
A common myth is that flexibility increases the length of your muscles. This is something that has been disproven a long time ago. Still most of us have experienced greater flexibility by making stretching a habit so why is this?
When we assume uncomfortable and unusual positions, like bending over to touch our toes, our muscles tend to tighten up due to protective mechanisms. Because of these mechanisms. when we try to extend our range of motion in these positions, for example when we are trying to stretch our hamstrings, we experience discomfort. What happens when we practice stretching is that our neuromuscular system becomes more accustomed to unusual positions and it learns to relax in them. This lets our muscles loosen up and as a result bigger ranges of motion are allowed in our joints.
Studies have also shown that it might cause you to get injured if done exactly before intense exercise. Some specialists still recommend it though, not directly before the main part of an exercise program but prior to warming up. Personally I like to stretch some of the tight muscles in my lower body before warming up.
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