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The DEATH of Crunches & Sit-Ups

By Brian Klepacki, MS, CSCS, FMS2

When was the last time you actually felt ‘strong’ in your core?

I’m not talking about when you’re doing a core workout at the gym or at home. I’m talking about when you are going about your day and you move in a certain way or lift something heavy and you feel your midsection tense up providing you with strength-confidence.

Kurt, who has been a loyal client of mine is constantly telling me of how strong his core feels when he does everyday actions. Even though he’s been in great shape all his life and is also an accomplished distance runner, he’s never felt his core perform the way it does until he started working with me a few years back. And the best part about it (to me at least) is that he lives pain-free.

Prior coming to me, Kurt, age 52, had a long list of nagging health issues most of which were brought on by poor training. On our first session together, he quickly told me all the exercises he was doing by himself and that he couldn’t get stronger, faster, or lose those last 15 pounds of belly fat no matter what he did.

As he was talking about his training history, I just sat there smiling, knowing everything he was doing was WRONG!

I couldn’t blame him because he does what everyone does when they go about it alone, hours of ‘YouTube’ research, hours of work at the gym doing the wrong exercises, watching what they eat BUT what hurt Kurt was that everything he read and followed was a lie. That’s right, a flat out lie.

As soon as I told him the truth about what he was doing and what he should be doing instead, a light-bulb went off in his head and he smiled and said, “Wow, I had no idea what I was doing.” Now what I told him wasn’t anything overly scientific or some crazy groundbreaking secret, I just told him a few simple truths that he could relate to and apply quickly. And from that conversation on, Kurt got it and still gets it to this day.

It’s crazy to think that people who regularly go to the gym and workout could possibly be in worse shape than non-exercisers. Think about it for a second, when was the last time you thought you were doing something right and come to find out you were doing it completely wrong and ended up wasting precious time and energy?

I see it all the time as a strength coach and fitness professional but it really caught my attention after my last vacation to South Carolina visiting family.

I needed to workout so I found my way to the local big box gym. The second I walked in there I cringed on the inside.

What I saw were many avid fitness goers spinning their wheels spending countless hours and reps in the gym participating in what they deemed as healthy activity. Don’t get me wrong, it’s encouraging to see people exercise but at the same time, what they are doing could be and probably is doing more harm than good.

I have no soapbox to stand on nor am I saying that I’m the king of exercise but some stuff just doesn’t add up. Even my buddy Jim who I was working out with that day turned to me and said, “Where do these people come up with this stuff?” Now Jim has little exercise experience but he knows enough to know if something seems odd.

What boggles my mind is that at some point, someone told someone or watched someone do something that seemed to be appropriate to them at that time. Did you catch that?

Just because it seems to be productive and “healthy” doesn’t make it so if it’s done in an incorrect manner. What you need to know is the ‘why’ behind it all before applying the ‘how’ and that’s where everyone gets in trouble… if you skip over that first step of ‘why’.

When it comes to core training, the why needs to be answered first before moving to the how. But unfortunately so many people, even physically fit individuals, just proceed into something that they think is beneficial without really knowing why it’s done and how it should be done.

Exercise is science. It needs to be done in a way that there are no negative outcomes.

This is WHY we exercise to promote health and longevity of life and if there is no guidance or direction then there’s a strong chance you are doing it wrong and that’s a fact.

Research proves AGAIN that the abdominal crunch is a pointless exercise and a waste time.

A recent EMG study out of Fresno State compared the muscle activation differences between 6 different core exercises. The purpose was to compare the overall recruitment of the rectus abdominis muscles, external oblique, and rectus femoris (quads) during the traditional abdominal crunch, a plank (traditional and suspended), mountain climber plank (traditional and suspended) and a suspended plank with a knee tuck.

Their results indicated that the suspension knee tuck (which is one of the many exercises within Crunchless Core) produced significantly greater overall muscle activity than the other exercise conditions.

It was also concluded that for individuals wanting to develop the abdominal musculature, suspension training and all plank variations (traditional and suspended) would be more effective exercises to use than the traditional abdominal crunch.

So that burning sensation you feel from doing endless crunches does not deliver the results you want. In fact, it misses your core altogether. It might hit the muscles on the surface but the negatives far outweigh the positives and this research study proves it!

Combining the unwanted flexion of your spine with the added limited range of the crunch does nothing to strengthen or shape your rectus abdominal muscles, your transverse abdominals, or your obliques. It might feel like it’s working but EMG testing proves its ineffectiveness.

And if it’s true strength and power that you’re after, the crunch is an ineffective exercise that actually provides no function to the body.

The crunch is not a natural movement, yet it somehow became popular for decades. What you need are exercises that produce the highest amount of muscle activity (like the suspended knee tuck) to give you the results you are after.

This study alone should convince you that the stomach crunch needs to get tossed into the garbage. There is no place for the crunch to exist in any fitness program whatsoever. Again, from my 15 years of experience AND research like this, it’s no wonder that so many professionals and intelligent fitness enthusiasts are rapidly dropping this exercise.

Don’t try to shoot fish in a barrel, follow intently what’s been proven to work and be amazed at what will happen.

If You Want A Professionally Designed And Structured Core Training Program That Is Backed By Science, Then Check Out Crunchless Core By Clicking HERE.

 

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How to Build STRONG Glutes (Exactly What You Need!)

By Brian Klepacki, MS, CSCS, FMS2

Hey, what’s up everybody? I’m Coach Brian Klepacki, MS, CSCS, FMS2, Certified Strength Coach here with Criticalbench.com and I’m giving you exactly what you need to do to build strong glutes.

WATCH THIS VIDEO to Build Strong Glutes!

Now, everybody loves a nice rear end, you know, a nice, shapely rear end or booty, if you will, but not everybody trains for strength, especially the women and also men. They just think, hey, I’m going to do these couple exercises with these numbers and expect my glutes to be strong.

So, first things first. If you want strong glutes you’ve got to train your glutes. Don’t be doing leg exercise expecting your glutes to get strong. But glutes, they’re not really part of your legs, are they? They’re part of the lower body. What I recommend for you is to do a glutes specific strength training protocol. Again, we’re going to go through, step-by-step on what that exactly looks like.

So, what is strength? Strength is actually not muscle density, but muscle concentration of the ability to move a heavy object, that’s strength. We’re not talking mass here, we’re talking actual strength. So, we need to apply basic strength training principles.

So heavier weight. You’ve got to lift heavier weight. Anything between 75% and 100% of your max effort or your 1RM max. I don’t expect you to know your Bulgarian split squat max effort. But what that looks like is anywhere from three to six, maybe eight repetitions. And depending on who your coach is or who you get your advice from or what your trainer says or even the certifying agency that you might be affiliated with, these numbers can vary. You know some Olympic lifters, powerlifters, they don’t get past three reps. Sometimes it’s even two reps and that’s it. They just do a whole bunch of different sets.

But for the general population, I would say three to six reps of a heavier weight, maybe eight reps depending on which exercise. But now you want to make sure you’re doing two to five minutes of rest in between each set. Now how many sets are we talking about? Anywhere from three to six sets.

I was taught by a professor that he says there’s really only one main set, everything else is a warm-up. So, three sets, you’re really not truly warmed-up to lift heavy if you do three sets. You might take five, six sets in order to get next to that 100%, which is three reps. I mean it wouldn’t be three reps, it would be one rep at that point. But in order to lift heavy you’ve got to rest longer. So, the moral of this story of all of this is that it will take time but the main thing is no circuit training.

So, what does that look like? In just a moment you’re going to see exactly what you need to do to implement this, but in summary, lift heavy, light on repetitions, so lower reps, resting two to five minutes, no exceptions because you physically might be okay, but internally your muscles are saying, “Hey, I’ve got to restore my ATP… I’ve got to renew my energy, my phosphate, creatine system…,” all this whole scientific nonsense that you don’t care about, that takes place on the inside where the outside may be like, “Alright, I’m ready to go again,” but don’t go again until two to five minutes is up. Three to six sets, no circuits, so stay with one exercise and move on.

That’s years of education right there in a nutshell. And if you’re asking where I got this information from, I get it from the NSCA, National Strength and Conditioning Association. I’m certified through them. I’ve been certified through them for about 10 years now. That’s where I get all my research from, that’s where these numbers actually come from.

So, what does this look like in a workout… all these principles combined, glute training, glute specific? If you want strong glutes, glute specific. And let me guess, you’re going to think number one is—take a guess. Chances are you’re wrong because squats and deadlifts aren’t the number one answer. Hip thrusts, that’s the number one answer. That’s it, right there. That will solve all of your issues. Hip thrusting is the number one answer.

Now there’s a couple of different types of hip thrusts. We’re not going to get into that right now because all different types of hip thrusts will still target the glutes. But that’s your main exercise for glute specific strength training. The second one, squats are good, but again that’s not glute specific. That is also quad specific. So, for the sake of number two, I will put squats, but I will also put deadlifts because if you’re doing a lower body workout you will still hit the glutes within squats and deadlifts, I would just do a normal back squat and traditional RDL deadlift.

Now we’re going to go into things like the glute bridge. I love the weighted glute bridge. You really get the peak contraction at the top of the lift there. So, one, two, three. Another exercise is your Bulgarian split squat. That’s a great exercise to do. It will target a little bit of the quads as well just because all that weight is going to be applied on that front leg there. And really the fifth one is kind of like the shotgun approach. I’m going to write a couple different exercises here in order for you to build strong glutes.

1) Frog Pumps with resistance, 2) Clam Shells with resistance…that’s how you build strength. There would also be 3) Band Walks, some kind of 4) Glute Machine at your gym (whether it’s a reverse hyper or a glute/ham developer), even like a 5) Donkey Kick machine, things like that. So, these are kind of all your secondary exercises right here. I don’t expect major strength to come from those, but if you’re doing one through four, you will see strength.

Now, again, if you’re brand new to glute training you’re going to see strength by just the neuromuscular adaptations that will just take place naturally just through exercise. All of these will require resistance training or an added form of resistance if you’re seasoned to training. That’s where you start applying these. Again, these can be done pretty much at the gym, at home, anywhere as long as you have just a little bit of space to do this with. Hip thrusts takes place on a bench, squats can be done with the barbell, kettlebell, things like that.

So, there you have it. If you apply these tips or these principles you will build stronger glutes, there’s no doubt about it. Again, really quick in summary, strength training principles, you’ve got to apply this to build strength, not size, not definition, but actual strength to get stronger which will obviously help with performance, injury prevention, lifting heavier weights, things like that.

And apply these glute specific exercises: hip thrusts, squats or deadlifts, glute bridges, Bulgarian split squats and all your secondary exercises: frog pumps, clam shells, band walks, glute machines. There really are a lot of different, I call them secondary or ‘show’ exercises that you’ll get strong in, but they won’t build strength like your first four exercises right there.

So, there you have it. This is the format you need to follow to build strong glutes, but not only that, I want to give you something for free to use with your training. It’s called a 5-Minute Glute Workout and if you use this 5 Minute Glute Workout in your training, you will get strong as well. So, check it out, it’s free and it’s right here….

CLICK HERE for a FREE Copy of the 5-Minute Glute Workout

 

For More Great Pics & Vids, please visit our CriticalBench Fan Page, http://www.facebook.com/criticalbench

For the BEST YouTube Videos on the Planet, please visit our main CriticalBench Channel, http://www.youtube.com/criticalbench

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And if you haven’t yet, please start following us on Instagram @thecriticalbench