Every now and then I have to remind myself why it is that I constantly focus on core (spine) stability exercises regularly. Even when the flood of literature by researchers and leaders in the field suggest a shift from the conventional flex the spine and crunch to stable the spine and control exercise I still receive questions/exercise programs centered around sit-ups, crunches and spine flexing tomfoolery. I can’t say that I’m not guilty of the doing repeated sets of eight twenty minute abs. In fact, I do believe there is a place for exercises that strengthen the abdomen through flexion. However, I believe they should be infrequent and should dwarf in comparison to the number of core stability exercise performed in an exercise program. And if there’s any reminder why it’s important to constantly train the spine in a stable position I like to return to an old passage that I once read by Gray Cook. “It is true that a strong midsection is a fundamental building block of spine stability, but spine stability cannot be trained when the spine is moving, as it is during crunches and sit ups . Spine stability is trained by keeping the spine stable in the presence of movement around it ( in the arms and legs). The brain and muscles can remember only the way, so they must consistently be trained the way they will be used in the sport or activity.” In other words tone it down with the eight minute abs. Instead, incorporate exercises that focus on maintaining a stable spine while incorporating movement at the extremities.
Try adding this simple circuit to your exercise routine to improve core strength and performance:
Coaching Cue: Stay tall and controlled through your spine with your glutes tight moving only your extremities ( arms and/or legs).