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If Not Sit-Ups and Crunches, Then What?
Okay, name an exercise that works your core. Ready, 1,2,3, go! I’m guessing that some form of sit-up or crunch was the first one that came to your mind. Is that bad? No. Is it outdated, yes?
The sit-up is performed lying on your back against a flat surface and brining your knees towards your sternum. How often do you, throughout your day, perform that action to achieve anything? Probably not very often, unless, you’re a closet toenail biter then, well, I’d keep it to myself. Here are some key points to argue that these types of core exercises are not ideal for achieving that six-pack or increasing stability of the spine:
  1. The flexion of your back during a sit-up puts a lot of force and stress on your vertebrae. This repeated movement can lead to herniated or bulging discs, compressed vertebrae and nerve damage.
  2. These exercise only reach a select number of muscles that make up your core. As an entire unit, your core muscles help you maintain a neutral spine and aid in the stability required for movements in all planes of motion.
  3. If your goal is to get washboard abs, your lack of sit-ups is not to blame. To achieve the definition of your abdominal muscles, you must have the right muscle to fat ratio. This is where the common phrase, "your abs are made in the kitchen” comes in.
Below are some exercises that will help you get a well rounded abdominal workout without the increased risk of injury while bettering your everyday functions, whether you’re and athlete or well along in your years.
 
Pallof Press
  1. On a pulley system, set the handle to about mid-torso height.
  2. Grabbing the handle, walk yourself two steps to your left or right.
  3. In an athletic stance (knees slightly bent, feet hip width apart, erect posture) grip handle with both hands at mid-torso height.
  4. On an exhale, slowly press the handle away from your chest taking about 4 seconds to completely extend your arms.
  5. Avoid any rotation when performing this exercise.
  6. Slowly return handle towards your body. That is one repetition completed. Repeat 10 repetitions per side for 3 sets.
 Physioball Stir the Pot
  1. On a physioball, assume the plank position (forearms on ball, shoulders down in back, neutral spine, neck relaxed)
  2. Once balanced, begin making small circles in the clockwise direction. Make 10 circles.
  3. Repeat 10 more small circles in the counterclockwise direction. That is one set complete. Repeat for 3 sets in both directions.

Ab Wheel Fallouts (Advanced Exercise)
  1. Place a pad beneath your knees with the ab wheel in front of you.
  2. Starting with the wheel directly in front of you, slowly exhale as you roll the wheel forward.
  3. As you roll forward, make sure to maintain a neutral spine, allowing your hips to fall with you without arching your back.
  4. Keeping your shoulders down in back, fully extend your arms as your body becomes parallel with the floor.
  5. As you inhale, roll yourself back up into starting position. That is one repetition. Complete 3 sets of 10 repetitions.  
**As stated, this is an advanced move that requires a good amount of core strength to complete properly. Ask your trainer how you can progress yourself to this exercise.
-Sarah Hall B.S., C.P.T.
 
 
     
 
       
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