I’m about to get belligerent.
As belligerent as a frat bro who just did 10 keg stands.
As belligerent as a pissed off hippopotamus.
As belligerent as an ex wife from a Jerry Springer episode.
As belligerent as a British soccer fan.
See, here’s the thing: the topic of core training fires me up. Not just because I’m an exercise science nerd, but because people are misinformed.
Or maybe they’re informed, but they remain stuck in their old ways of what they’ve always done. Still, they’re making their athletes do crunches. They’re making 8 year olds do crunches. They’re making their soccer team do crunches after running full field suicides.
Excuse my French, but you’re not fucking cool for doing this.
I got a newsflash for you: performance training is evolving, so you should too.
Stop with the crunches. Spare your athletes the herniated discs, the low back stress fractures, and be smart. Evolve.
^I’m shouting, “evolve!” in that picture, I swear.
Why You Aren’t Cool for Doing Crunches
First and foremost, no one’s giving you a gold star when you make your athletes do 1,000 crunches. Instead of gaining respect, you’re losing it. And instead of looking like a hard ass, you’re looking as soft as Rita’s vanilla custard ice cream.
Expounding further, you’re putting your athletes at risk and hindering their performance.
As an example, shooting in soccer is one skill I touch on the most when it comes to proper core training. Instead of seeing the core as a force producer, it is a force stabilizer, which allows all the other muscles to do their job (the hip flexors and hip extensors) for improved shooting power:
What’s more is, we save our low backs from stress and allow everything else to move freely.
I told you I was an exercise science nerd.
What gets me the most is crunches aren’t even challenging. There are a plethora of other exercises that rip into the core, and make your face fall off.
That reminds me, yesterday I posted a video of these Upper Body Rolls:
I’m sure I caused a shit storm with the caption splashed across the screen, but one that pushed people to ponder.
To that end, these Upper Body Rolls will hammer your anterior core. Even my athletes exclaimed, “wow! Crunches are so easy compared to this.”
Told you I was an exercise science nerd.
What’s more is, this exercise is great for total body coordination through the core, and moves athletes into that “bracing” position.
And the more they can move into this brace, the better they’re able to do bigger movements like squats, deadlifts, push-ups, and pull-ups.
Are our abs flexing, or backs rounding during any of these movements like we see in crunches?
That’s a hard “no.”
Crunches, to that end, have little carryover to movements in the gym, on the pitch, on the court, and in life.
When holding your baby, for example, are you rounding your low back and moving into a flexed position? No, you’re stabilizing so you don’t drop them.
Or when carrying heavy grocery bags, you’re stabilizing so you don’t break your newly bought organic large brown eggs that cost $8.
This ain’t rocket science. This is stuff we should be able to see with the naked eye.
So I repeat: you’re not fucking cool for doing crunches.
And for the hypertrophy athletes, crunches may serve benefit for aesthetics, but there are other optimal ways to get six pack abs with anti-rotation and anti-flexion progressions:
And, heavy strength training:
And, power training:
And, diaphragmatic breathing:
If you put all of this together, your core is on its way to looking like Ronaldo’s.
For the record, I haven’t done a crunch in over 3 years. Therefore, I’m a core queen.
So what did you think? Was that belligerent enough? Am I scary?
Or are you nodding your head in agreement?
I sure could write a dissertation on core training, but I have crime and internet trolls to fight.
But if you want more resources, here are some stellar ones I recommend: