The End of Sit-ups?

The sit-up has been the major exercise for building the abdominal and core muscles for more than 100 years. However, sit-ups put an unacceptable load on the spine that can lead to disk injury and chronic back pain. Developing core stiffness is more important than building trunk flexion fitness because it strengthens muscles, improves muscular endurance, reduces low back pain, and boosts sports performance. Greater core stiffness transfers strength and speed to the limbs, increases the load bearing capacity of the spine, and protects the internal organs during sports movements. A landmark study by Benjamin Lee and Stuart McGill showed that isometric exercises for the core resulted in greater core stiffness than performing whole-body dynamic exercises that activated core muscles. The results of this study cast doubts on the value of traditional core exercises such as sit-ups. This is an extremely important study that might change the way we build abdominal and core muscle fitness. (Journal Strength Conditioning Research, 29: 1515-1526, 2015)

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