Six Pack Or A Broken Back? You Decide

Abnormal crunches and their implications for your back muscles and spine.

Six Pack Or A Broken Back? You Decide
Six Pack Or A Broken Back? You Decide

When we talk about the six-pack we imagine the six bulging and visible muscles on the midsection. And we think the only way to get them looking that good is to get a mat lay down and start crunching away, needless to say, you would feel the burn, but the rectus-abdominus (the six-pack) is only a small group of muscles part of a larger muscle group that aids in your spinal flexion. 

In simpler terms, the hallowed abdominal crunches most gym goers do on a regular is bad for your back (when done incorrectly and too frequently). 

Question is, are there other abdominal exercises that can substitute for the go-to crunches (not that they are bad though) and give you better and quicker results? (With lots of hard work of course). - Yes there is.

NB - Not to say abdominal crunches are totally bad for you and should be avoided at all cost, the take-home here, is the fact that crunches in general are not ideal for your spinal flexion, as your back wasn't made to move in that manner, it wasn't built to flex in that crunch pattern. 


What Are The Other Options Available? 

Quite a lot actually, and can be done standing or lying down. These other exercises tend to hit the whole core area pretty well when combined efficiently and done in moderation. 


Frequently Asked Questions About Abdominal Training: 

Why Does My Back Hurt When Doing Some Exercises For My Abdominals? 

Reasons can vary, from wrong technique to unnecessary high repetitions amongst other factors. One culpable culprit which is less talked about is the strength of your core (the base for most if not all your functional movements). If you have a weak core, then most abdominal exercises you perform will likely cause you back pain. The solution is to strengthen your core. More on the exercises required when we talk about other forms of efficient exercises for your abdomen. 


Will Abdominal Training Burn Fat And Give Me A Six-Pack? 

The answer is No, but a combination of abdominal exercises and more importantly HIIT (High intensity interval training) will. We all have the "six-pack", difference is just the definition and visibility, as fat tissue (your protruded stomach) covers up the six-pack muscle. First, burn off those fats, then tighten your core with various abdominal exercises for definition. Simply put - they can be done side by side, but the emphasis should be more on HIIT, also another completely ignored aspect is your diet, as this is the bedrock for fat loss really. 


I've Heard Alot About HIIT How Do I Go About It To Give Me Results For Fat Loss? 

As said above, when it comes to Fat loss, you are better off burning off the fat tissue with high intensity interval training than with doing countless reps of abdominal exercises, as fat tissue is primarily disposed off when you use those stored fatty tissue as fuel. How do we do that by engaging in slightly vigorous intense activity that raises your heart level up, will recommend 70 - 80% of your heart rate. Examples of such exercises are Jumping jacks, high knees, explosive clap push-ups, and burpees amongst others. 


Workouts That Can Serve As Alternatives To The Traditional Abdominal Crunches 

Planks - This is a very good whole-body exercise that recruits more muscles throughout the body for execution, which in effect translates to fat loss, strength, and toning. 

How to: Assume a tiger push-up position, laying face down, support your weight with your toes and hold the position for about 30 - 60 seconds. 


Dying Bug - Is also an efficient workout for your abdominals, as the focus is strictly on your core and thighs. 

How to: Lie on your back with your arms straight up to the ceiling and your knees and hips bent at 90 degrees. Keep your midsection down, and extend your opposite arm and leg out in an alternating motion, right arm to the left leg, left arm to the right leg. Reps 10 sets 3


Double Leg Raise And Lowering - Super exercise for your lower abdomen, specifically that pouch area (just between your privates and your belly button), that area has been known to have stubborn fat. So this workout is great for results. 

How to: Lie on your back flat on an exercise mat, with legs outstretched, raise your legs (both) slowly as much as you can all the while keeping your back and waist straight on the floor when at the top of the movement stop and then lower your leg slowly back down and repeat. Reps 10 sets 3.


V Hold - A great exercise for your whole core and lower back muscles. As it requires the use of a whole lot of core and back muscles to carry out successfully. 

How to: Lay on an exercise mat back facing down, and raise both legs as well as both arms outstretched in front of you, assuming a V shape. Hold the position for about 30 - 60 seconds. 

There are numerous other exercises that can serve as an alternative to the traditional abdominal crunch (also sit-up), which gives faster and better results and more importantly puts less or zero strain on your back. The key here is consistency and variety. 


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