Stop Doing Sit-ups with Machines to Train Your Core

· 28th February 2019
Do you know the difference between doing abdominal exercises and working your core in an integral way? Find out why people tend to lose ground with traditional work-outs.

The term “abs” is increasingly undervalued, in part because coaches and trainers, as well as high-performance athletes, now analyze the body as an integrated unit. The body is no longer considered to be segmented. Moreover, abdominal crunches can end up being more harmful than beneficial.

Nowadays, more focus is given to working the core. The core is an area of the body that consists of much more than muscles. It’s considered to be the center of human anatomy.

What are the functions of the abdomen?

One of the most serious errors that we make when we repeat “traditional” abdominal exercises (to the point of exhaustion) is the fact that they do not execute any natural movements. This is because specific movements can’t be performed in conjunction with the natural functions of the abdomen. In fact, it is quite the opposite.

The abdomen is mainly tasked with keeping the trunk straight. In order to do this, it must generate resistance to oscillations.

The abdomen acts as a natural back brace, it facilitates the adoption of good posture. It also protects the internal organs and the spine, in addition to intervening in the process of respiration.

The dangers of doing too many abdominal exercises

Lying on the ground or using machines to execute abdominal crunches involves a high risk. There is a long list of negative effects that occur if the spine is forced to adopt unnatural positions. Excess crunches can lead to wear of the inter-vertebral discs.

Furthermore, the pressure exerted on the hips can negatively affect the lower back, while tension in the neck can cause annoying cervical pain.

Other undesired consequences of crunches include poor posture (shoulders drooping forward or bent backward), herniated discs and urinary incontinence (due to the weakening of the pelvic floor). The effects can be even worse if weights are incorporated into the exercise.

Core exercise

What should you do?

In addition to working with machines which will allow for the realizations of exercises such as the pallof press, another key to strengthening the core is isometric exercises.

Isometric exercises are routines which aim to maintain pressure on the muscles for a short period of time, typically less than 15 seconds. This is done without executing any movements.

The biggest star, when it comes to this category of abdominal exercises, is the plank and all of its variants (frontal, lateral, alternating, etc.). Another great option is to perform multi-joint exercises such as squats, pull-ups and push-ups.

The basis of this advice is that a high number of muscles and joints are involved in carrying out these exercises.  The exercises mentioned above also facilitate a workout of the entire core.

More exercises

There are other workouts that can have a very positive effect on the development of the abdominal area. Here are a few examples:

  • Leg lifts: this exercise works the abdominal muscles, specifically the rectus major. In order to perform it, you will have to start by “hanging” from a bar while keeping your back and knees completely straight. Then lift your legs until they become parallel to the floor.
  • If you are unable to perform leg lifts “hanging” from a bar, you can try to perform the exercises using parallel bars. In order to carry out the exercises, elevate yourself using the parallel bars. Then flex your knees until they touch your chest. Complete 3 sets of 12 repetitions.
Crunches

  • Flex your stomach muscles: this is a simpler option than all of the rest. This exercise can be performed while driving, sitting in front of the computer, standing in the subway or cooking. Simply flex your abdominal muscles. Try flexing your muscles for 15 seconds several times a day.

There’s no point in exercise without a healthy diet

Having a healthy balanced diet is as important as exercising when it comes to losing weight. If you want your exercise to bring you results, you’ll have to maintain a balanced diet. A balanced diet is even more important if one of your goals is to get the sought-after six pack. Will you accept the challenge?

  • Hibbs, A. E., Thompson, K. G., French, D., Wrigley, A., & Spears, I. (2008). Optimizing performance by improving core stability and core strength. Sports Medicine. Adis International Ltd. https://doi.org/10.2165/00007256-200838120-00004
  • Faries, M. D., & Greenwood, M. (2007). Core training: Stabilizing the confusion. Strength & Conditioning Journal29(2), 10. https://doi.org/10.1519/1533-4295(2007)29[10:CTSTC]2.0.CO;2