Are Common Ab Exercises Safe?

Are Common Ab Exercises Safe?
Until recently, most personal trainers and coaches preached that sit-ups and crunches were the keys to building cut abs. Dr. Stuart McGill from Canada showed that stressing the back repeatedly in flexion (bending forward at the waist) lowers its tolerance to injury. Strength coaches Bret Contreras and Brad Schoenfeld disagreed. Flexion exercises such as curl-ups build the rectus abdominis (six-pack muscle) and obliques better than static exercises. Also, trunk movements provide nutrition and lubrication to the spine. People can do trunk flexion movements provided they have no pre-existing injuries and are not genetically predisposed to spinal deterioration. Core training should involve a combination of isometric and dynamic exercises. The strategies for balancing core strength and spinal health will be controversial for many years to come. (Strength Conditioning Journal, 33 (4): 8-18)

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