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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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