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To sit-up or not to sit-up?

One conversation that I have many times with our clients is regarding sit
ups and crunches. Many people say they do them but don’t like or enjoy doing them. That would
indicate to me that there are lot of people doing these two exercises because they feel they should.

For the people who walk through the doors here at Optimum 3, and do not enjoy or like sit ups
and crunches there’s some good news. In our personal training gym there are two exercises that will rarely appear as part of a program we design, sit ups and crunches. Why? I hear some of you ask.

As I’ve mentioned in some of our previous blogs, one of our main focuses is being functional. Our ab muscles are designed to move in three different ways (flexing & extending, side bending, and twisting). So when you think about pounding out sit ups and crunches, we’re moving in one plane of movement which means overworking those muscles, as well as isolating and neglecting the other muscles that want to help you move properly on a day to day basis.

The result? By overworking those upper ab muscles with a sit up, you just start creating a postural imbalance which will have an effect on the rest of your body when it wants to move, risking muscular stress but also injury. I know for a fact there are better exercises that utilise more body parts, get you moving properly with good posture and technique, and still provide the end goal of great abs, such squats and deadlifts.

It’s important to stress at this stage, that before you start killing yourself with any ab exercises in
the gym, there is one thing that should be given a close look – Your diet. For example, if you have a
diet that isn’t working for you this can significantly restrict your success with exercise and specifically
your abs. Let me expand on what we mean by ‘not working for you’. Do you eat food and shortly
after eating feel bloated? If you do there’s a good chance you’re putting something in your body that
it doesn’t like and the bloated feeling is your body’s way of telling you it isn’t happy, this is what is
known to be an intolerance. Now, if you’re feeling bloated or causing some inflammation through
what you eat, where do your abs go? Simple, they start hiding away underneath. This is the same if we have excess body fat around our stomach, sit ups and crunches shouldn’t be the starting point because theres no such thing as spot reduction.

It’s really important to find the foods that work for you as an individual. What works for your family member or friend doesn’t automatically mean it will work for you.

So, find the foods that work for YOU and remember, Great Abs Start in the Kitchen. Watch out for
our next blog on how to go about identifying those foods.

Above all else, there are better exercises you can utilise

Move Well!


James Brereton

Author James Brereton

More posts by James Brereton

Join the discussion One Comment

  • Jackie says:

    As a chiropractor I am a massive advocate of core strength. There are so many ways to achieve this though, you don’t have to be counting out the sit ups. Sometimes people concentrate on sit ups because they want great looking abs but neglect the back. This creates an imbalance that could lead to problems later on. I agree with James, functional work that includes muscle groups that normally work together is the healthiest way to build.

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