Science is a wonderful thing, especially when it comes to the fitness science. It’s amazing everything that has come out of hours & years of research when it comes to keeping our bodies healthy and looking good. Now some research has surfaced from numerous sources about sit-ups and crunches and how the one-time go-to moves no longer do much for your hopeful sexy abs and core, but rather can do damage to your back.
When most of us think of our abs, we usually don’t think of our entire core; our abs are part of our core. Like we’ve heard before, doing just upper and lower ab moves won’t work the entire area. We need to have variety so when we’re perfecting our midsections into bikini/trunk ready masterpieces, the whole 9 yards looks great. Now that’s not saying we have to form 6 pack abs, but most of us just want a flatter tummy, right? It’s inevitable that we all have or will have a little pooch, mainly on the lower part of the stomach, but it’s up to us to keep it in check.
We essentially workout our abs every single day; As we’re walking, standing, rising up from a sitting position, bending, etc. So that might throw out the sometimes preached “you shouldn’t workout your abs everyday” rule. This is true to some extent; I feel what most who say this are really trying to say is if you choose to do abs everyday, don’t do the same moves back to back and to change it up. Also, if you’re going to do a daily ab routine, don’t make it more than 20 minutes or so. A perfect solution to a short every other day workout could be the P90X Ab RipperX. On other days, you can do such moves as the plank or side plank, reptile pushups, you can even use a small medicine ball or the big core balls. There are so many different ab moves out there, it’s hard to not be able to do something different each day.
I pulled 2 articles from Livestrong.com and TheDailyBeast.com . I’ve also read information via Women’s Health and Fitness, so I figured this wasn’t just another “we’re pretty this isn’t good anymore.” I will include some excerpts from both articles, but I recommend reading both or at least 1 to better inform yourself; also to not make this a super long post.
From The Daily Beast Article:
“We stopped teaching people to do crunches a long, long time ago,” says Dr. Richard Guyer, president of the Texas Back Institute. That’s because the “full flex” movement—the actual “crunch” part of crunches – puts an unhealthy strain on your back at its weakest point. The section with the most nerves (and most potential for nerve damage) is in the back of the spine, which is the very part that bends and strains during a sit-up.”
And of course, when people do crunches, they rarely stop at one or two: in the quest for flat abs, they’ll churn out dozens at a time, bringing them ever closer to “flex intolerance”—so much pain and stiffness that it’s difficult to tie one’s shoes or bend down to pick a penny off the ground. “But who cares about back health as bathing suit season approaches? Turns out, crunches might not be the best solution for a flat stomach, either. That’s because doing too many sit-ups at the expense of other, more comprehensive movements can lead to the dreaded “aerobic abs.”
Doing a sit-up doesn’t train your ab muscles to do the job for which they were designed – keeping your spine straight and secure and providing power for your movements. In everyday life, “the abdominals are braces,” says McGill, author of “Ultimate Back Fitness and Performance”
-The thought of spot reduction through repeated exercise of one body part has an enduring allure. However, your body doesn’t recognize your desire to lose your belly fat while keeping other areas robust. Exercise burns calories — but not always where you want calories to burn. Sit-ups and crunches still contribute meaningfully to your fitness program, but they cannot eliminate belly fat directly.
-If you carry the majority of your excess fat in your abdomen, you may have a higher percentage of visceral fat than someone who carries weight elsewhere on the body. Visceral fat — the fat that fits between your internal organs — is associated with serious health risks like cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
-The core muscles you use to perform sit-ups and crunches form a natural internal support system under your skin. Without sufficient abdominal support, you put your lower back at greater risk of injury. When your lumbar vertebrae must bear all your upper body’s weight, you become prone to back pain. Building your core strength through sit-ups and crunches takes some strain from your lower back. This enhanced support system increases your lifting capacity not only in the gym, but also around the house or in the garden. A fit body doesn’t just look better; it also performs better.
-You tend to slouch if your abdominal muscles don’t help to support your upper body; this can give you a fuller-bellied appearance even if you’re slender.