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Yes, these abs belong to our very own Anthony and no, he didn’t get them by doing crunches.

I mentioned in the previous post that I was lucky enough to see Dr Stuart McGill, a professor of spine biomechanics at the University of Waterloo (Waterloo, ON, Canada), speak at the Performbetter conference a few weeks ago.

Dr McGill reiterated what he stated in his book, Ultimate Back Health, that we should avoid repeated spinal flexion and extension (crunches and sit-ups). He used the analogy of placing a credit card between your thumb and forefinger and repeatedly bending it until it develops a weak spot and then eventually breaks. This is essentially what we are doing to our backs when we repeatedly flex our spines over and over again. He actually stated, “If you want to do crunches on a stability ball, go ahead. You are breaking backs.” Yikes!

Dr McGill then went on to explain that your rectus abdominus (six pack muscles) aren’t designed to flex forward (crunching). The connective tissue between the muscles that gives you that separation between each muscle is actually designed to hold together all of your more important core muscles. These muscles wrap around your body like a natural weight belt. They connect in the front at the “six pack”. The true function of your abs is to hold in your guts in when you brace against force. Interestingly, in the quest for a strong back/core, crunching actually forces your abs to do something that they are not primarily built to do. Doh!

What should be be doing to train your core?

Not moving! That’s right- the function of your core is to prevent movement, not create it. Here are a few examples:



Will these exercises have you ready for the beach? Absolutely- and your back will thank you.

Let’s not forget THE most important exercise for beach ready abs.

Push-Backs

Never heard of this exercise? It can be tough, as it involves pushing back from the table a little earlier than normal. It is the only exercise that I guarantee will expose those raging six pack abs that lie beneath that layer of winter fat.

Rick Mayo