“If you don’t do crunches and sit-ups, what do you do for abs?”

              “I haven’t done a crunch or sit-up in over a year, and this is the strongest my core has ever been, and best my abs have ever looked”.

              That’s a direct quote from one of our gym members, and it’s important you hear it from her, not just us.  We love core training and everything that comes with it.  Having a strong core is flattering to our physique.  It supports our form in our other lifts & exercises.  It helps us to breathe more efficiently when we’re fatigued.

              Sometimes when we tell folks we’ve never done a crunch or sit-up in the gym, they’re often surprised.  For a lot of us, those seem like the “core” (I crack myself up) exercises of ab training.

              While we don’t believe there are purely “good” or “bad” core exercises, we don’t choose crunches or sit-ups because we believe there are better options out there.  Exercises that do a more efficient job of getting your abs rock hard.

              So why not crunches and sit-ups?

              It all comes down to the spine.

              When you think about your spine, and the different positions it can exist in, modern day life forces us into a seated, hunched forward position, right?  Take someone in that seated, hunched forward position, and lay them on their back.  What do we have?  The same position as a crunch or sit-up.  Our back is put into this rounded position so much throughout the day (even with the best intentions for your posture), why would we want to do more of that in the gym?

              Instead of using our abs to round our spine, we focus on “anti” core training.  That means that we’re seeking out positions that challenge us to maintain a more aligned spine.

              What does that look like?

              Instead of a sit-up, do a plank or ab wheel.

              Instead of a side bend, do a one arm kettlebell carry or side plank.

              Instead of a Russian twist, do an anti-rotation hold or cable chop.

Credit: theformfitness

Credit: theformfitness

              See how each of these options we provided replaced something that awkwardly moves the spine with something that still engages the same muscles?  Instead of moving the spine, we challenge these muscles to hold the spine in place.  That’s what we focus on in our gym.

              It’s no surprise to us that training this way has alleviated back pain and improved performance for several of our members.  Once they learn how to use their core muscles in the way they were intended, our members finally begin to see the results they’ve been looking for with their core training.  Zero crunches.  Zero sit-ups.  Yet, they have the strongest, leanest core they’ve had in their entire lives.

              If you’ve been grinding away in the gym, doing thousands of crunches and sit-ups, try a little more “anti” core training in your program.  Put your body in a position where the core or spine wants to collapse, and use your abs to resist and fight that position.  Not only will you “feel it” the next day, you’ll feel more support in your other exercises, and you’ll feel it when you put on that snug shirt.

Once you understand this concept, you’ll realize there are literally thousands of options that you’ll never get bored with.  You shouldn’t be surprised if you never think to do a crunch or sit-up in your life again!  Don’t feel bad, though.  They had their day.  Now it’s time for you to get the most our of your efforts in the gym!


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Author: Ross Oberlin


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