2015-06-30 10.12.45I am not going to turn this article into a discussion of why crunches have no place in athlete training programs (really they should not be found in any training programs).  Quite simply there are two main reasons:

1) They do not train your ‘core’ muscles the way you are going to use them in sport – for the most part (of course there are exceptions), your torso will be stabilizing and transferring power that is created by your extremities, not generating it.  It does not work in isolation.  Again, there are exceptions where we isolate in order to teach movement.

2) Dr. Stuart McGill’s research indicates that herniated disc injuries are repetitive trauma injuries, so you may be able to do 300 crunches a day for 327 days in a row without any problem – – and then on the 328th day blow a disc in your back.  Or mistreat your back with crunches for years and then herniate a disc picking up your laundry off the floor.

These two factors tip the ol’ risk:reward scale away from crunches.  Especially when there are more functional ways to work the torso without putting the same compression on the spine.

So let me give you three ways that real athletes train their core – they are probably new to you and you might even look at them and think – “How is that a core exercise?”

Give them a try the next time you are in the gym and you will see 🙂

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Plank + Push

I love that you must stabilize with your hips, torso AND shoulders for this one.  You have all done planks before, but you probably haven’t done it like this!

Start with 5 x 5s push on each side and build from there.

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Standing Deadbug

This one gets you in a standing position that requires some balance.  You are using a diagonal pattern, which is similar to the one arm and opposite leg pattern you use when you run or throw.

Remember to stay tall in your torso and do 5 reps on each side with a 5s hold

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½ Kneeling Pec Fly

The key here is not to move your torso at all!  Stay tall.

I have put you in half kneeling so there is more load on your hips and torso, we have taken the lower leg out of the equation to some extent.

Do 8 with each arm – pause for 1 second at the top.

Give them a try and let me know how you like them – they will feel different from regular crunches because they use your abs, hips, chest, everything – so it is not just burning out your abs, it is working your muscle chains, just the way you use them in your sport.


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