In all good super hero movies, we have our hero and villain.  In the case of our abdominal training, our malefactor is the sit up.  Mention abdominal training and most of us will think of this famous abdominal exercise.  

     Why should you avoid doing sit ups?  The issue lies in the pressure you are putting on the vertebrae of your spine while doing the exercise.  When we perform sit ups, we flex the spine over and over which pumps the nucleus (the middle core of the disc of your spine) through the anullus.  This results in a bulging or herniated disc which presses on the nerve root and causes pain.  This is an injury that happens over hundreds and thousands of repetitions. 

      A good core exercise program trains all the muscles around the spine.  This means the abdominals, back and gluteus muscles.  


The following 4 exercises will protect your spine and allow you to build a strong core.

  1. The McGill Crunch: named after its creator, spine expert Dr. Stuart McGill, this exercise allows you to crunch while protecting your spine.  To perform the exercise, lie on the floor on your back, bent one leg with your foot flat on the floor, the other leg is straight.  Place your hands under your lumber region to protect your spine and while keeping your neck and head in a neutral position, lift your shoulders off the floor 1 or 2 inches.
  2. Stir the Pot: place your elbows and forearms on a stability ball and position your body in a plank.  Keeping your gluteus and abdominals contracted, move your elbows in a circle.  
  3. Side Plank: lying on your side, up on one elbow, top leg in front.  Lift your hips up and straighten your spine.  It is easier on your supporting shoulder if your place your opposite hand on it to give it extra support.
  4. Bird Dog: Position yourself on your hands and knees, extend one arm and the opposite leg. Focus on contracting your abdominals and keeping your hips parallel to the floor.

Fantastic Four Core Routine:

 A1 McGill Crunch, 3 sets of 12 repetitions   

 A2 Side Plank, 3 sets of 8 repetitions, hold the plank for 5 seconds.

Rest 1 minute and repeat A1 & A2.

 B1 Stir the Pot, 3 sets of 15 seconds for each direction

 B2 Bird Dog, 3 set s of 8 repetitions, hold at the top for 3 second

Rest 1 minute and repeat B1 & B2.


If you’d like to know more about core training and are savvy to do your own research, simply do an internet search for anti-rotation core exercises.  You will find several movements that will allow you to train your core while protecting your spine.  You can also email me and I will gladly answer your questions.


Yours in fitness,

Coach Guy Dufour