Ab crunch’s – why they should be banished from your gym program. By Dan Lawrence
When talking about your abs or more specifically the buzz word – ‘Core’, it’s important to know what we are actually talking about. This short article should give you a better understanding.
We are referring to your rectus abdominals – 6pack area, external oblique’s – largest and most superficial muscle situated around your rib area, internal obliques – running laterally next to the ‘6 pack area’ and the transverse abdominis – situated just below the ribs and finally your erector spinae (spinae erectors) – Loads of muscles and tendons running down the length of the spine.
All of these together are your ‘Core’ and most simply described, putting a belt around your belly button, anything inside that belt is referred to as your ‘Core’.
Male or female, everyone wants to target these muscles. Whether your body fats low enough to visually see them, you train them to help with other movements (squats etc), you want to build strength to protect your lower back or you simply like training them. They are a muscle group like every other muscle in the body and need training in some capacity.
95% of my clients spend a minimum of 6 hours a day in a seated position, whether that is – Sat behind a desk, sat staring at a computer/laptop, driving in the car, sitting down on a train to work or simply sitting down to eat their breakfast or dinner. Doing that for 5 working days in a week equates to 30+ hours of sitting in a negative posture.
I’ll use a future article to highlight postural issues from sitting and how that will effect you more in depth.
Back to our ‘Core’. The analogy I normally use if we think of our trunk (core) as a tree trunk and we think of our limbs as the branches of this tree. If our trunk isn’t strong enough to support these branches, the branches won’t be able to stay on the tree. This put into real life is quite simple; if your core isn’t strong enough your limbs aren’t going to be able to function to optimal capacity, due to your core being the weaker link. We are only as strong as our weakest link.
*Flexion – Hunched over or leaning forwards.
But all of this sitting down means one thing, we are all guilty of being fixed in flexion* for extended periods throughout our working week. Going into the gym and doing 10 minutes at the end of your routine isolating your rectus abdominals with all different forms of crunches isn’t going to help us, it’s actually exasperating an issue we already have.
By performing these ‘crunch’ style exercises we are shortening an already short muscle and adding to our postural issue.
In a future blog post I’ll give you a list of beneficial core exercises to replace the ones in your existing routine, in order to push you on to the next level. Remove Ab-crunches from your program and stay tuned for some superior alternatives.