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Sit Up Variations-Six Pack Abs Builder Or Back Breaker?

Jun 28, 2008
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.

Now, let's take a second to investigate the sit-up. The main reason why sit-ups add stress to the spine is because of the contribution of the hip flexors during the movement. The critics assert that this hip flexor involvement causes compressive forces in the spine which is why sit-ups should be completely avoided. Do they have a point, or are they overreacting?

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.

The truth is that the abs are only responsible for the beginning portion of the movement during a sit-up. Once you are in the finished "crunch" position, the hip flexors take over to finish the top portion of the sit-up. It should be noted that although the hip flexors provide the movement in the top range, the abs are still contracting hard. This contraction prevents your back from arching and contributes to the overall ab workout.

Another great "side effect" of the sit up is the caloric deficit that it creates. The sit up requires you to move through a large range of motion and incorporates the hip flexors as well as the abdominal musculature. Thus, a sit up burns a significantly greater number of calories than a crunch. If you want six pack abs, burning calories and losing body fat are of the utmost importance.

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!
About the Author
John Alvino is a industry famous professional fitness expert.For over 16 years John has been considered to be one of the most successful weight loss and ab training experts in the industry.Click here to learn how to lose fat and how to get six pack abs
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