Want Six Pack Abs? Ignore the Critics and Do This Exercise

By: John Alvino

What are the best ab exercises to develop six pack abs?? The answer to this question seems to be forever changing.? For example, the sit-up has completely fallen out of favor by the fitness community.? In fact, the majority of fitness experts now declare that sit-ups are incredibly dangerous to you spine.? Where was this opinion born?? Did countless trainees injure their spines from performing this "treacherous" exercise?? Luckily for most of us, that is not the case.

The "sit-ups are unsafe" chant that can be heard echoing throughout fitness centers all over the world was actually born in the lab.? Studies have found that sit-ups stress the spine more than the crunch does.? And?? Taking a nap will stress the spine even less than crunched do.? Is napping a better ab exercise than crunches?? You can see how the stress argument is seriously flawed.? Every exercise that you perform creates some stress on the body.? It is that stress that encourages our body to adapt and get stronger.? This is the very nature of exercise.

Let's investigate the sit up a little further. The reason why the critics say sit-ups stress the spine more than crunches is because of the involvement of the hip flexors during sit ups.? They state that this hip flexor activation leads to a compressive force in the spine, and therefore, should be avoided.? Is this a gross overreaction, or do they have a point?

The fact of the matter is, athletes and fitness trainees have been safely incorporating sit-ups and their variations for years now.? This alone should make it obvious that the "sit-up alarm" may be ringing for no apparent reason.? The truth is, I have never witnessed one spine get damaged at the hand of a set of sit-ups.? You would suspect that after 16 plus years as a fitness professional I would have at least seen one sit-up related injury if they were so harmful.

I know that some trainers are saying, "Alright, you convinced me that sit ups are not as dangerous as the "experts" claim, but since the crunch works the abs just as well as the sit up, why should I do sit ups, anyway?"? Let me explain why this is not the correct way of thinking.

It is a fact that your abs only produces movement during the bottom of a sit-up.? Once your spine is flexed and you're in the top portion of a crunch, your hip flexors are activated.? From this point on, the hip flexors are what finishes the exercise.? Although the abs don't produce movement in the top range, they are still working like crazy.? This must not be overlooked.? The abs continue to contract isometrically (contracting to maintain a joint angle, not move it).? This isometric contraction increases the work the abs does, thus leading to a positive response.

Something else to consider is that the sit-up burns more calories than crunches do.? Working through a larger range of motion and integrating other muscles besides the abs, makes this possible.? Remember, training your abs directly is only half the equation to having a six pack.? The other part to this is reducing body fat to unveil your stomach.? Burning additional calories will help contribute to this.

I personally recommend sit ups to any individual who fits the "sit up" criteria.? The criteria are simple: no pre-existing back problems, and a solid base of abdominal strength.? Couple that with proper form, and you will not have any problems!

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