No, We Don't Do Sit Ups...And We're Proud Of It!
Posted in Program Design & Theory on August 1, 2018
“We don’t do enough ab work...where are all the crunches and sit-ups?!?!”
They’re off of our floor. “The program is awesome, but I wish we did more abs”...this statement is not new, and comes most frequently from clients who may be newer to the MADness. But how could we blame them? We’ve been throttled with headlines like “8 ab exercises that will give you a six pack in one week” for ages. Moreover, plenty of studios implement segmented ab work into their regular programming...which is cool! It’s just not us. Do isolated ab exercises target your midsection? Sure. Are isolated ab exercises the most efficient way to train your core? Absolutely not. We certainly don’t expect anyone who’s not a fitness professional to know this, which is why we’re passionate about sharing this knowledge with you!
Let’s dive in:
The hunt for "abs" is rarely driven by an individual’s thirst for long term health and wellness. Let’s be real...it’s coming from an aesthetic desire to sport a lean, ripped up tummy. Hate to burst your bubble...but cranking out purposeless crunches isn’t going to give you the turtle shell you’re looking for. You’ve heard the saying “abs are made in the kitchen”, right? Well...it’s true. The secret to visible abs is no secret at all: lower your body fat percentage. This doesn’t happen by cranking out hundreds of crunches. If your diet isn’t in check, you’ll never see that six pack.
In the spirit of getting off of our nutritional soapbox (feel free to browse our other blog posts on the importance of eating like you give a shit), let’s zero in on how “abs” tie into the MADness. What you’ll find in our doors is a highly structured, thought-out, detail-oriented program. There is a rhyme and reason to every single interval, work to rest ratio, trainer, performance cue, playlist, and movement pattern with which you interact. So, rather than hyper-focusing on isolation movements and throwing in a random set of sit-ups into the daily interval, we apply advanced principles such as tension and anti-rotation to our multi-joint movements in order to help carve out a complete approach to core training. Basically, what we're saying is the request for “more ab work” is highly ironic...because it is everywhere!
Nearly every single movement pattern that’s programmed into the daily interval lights up your core to some degree:
- Think tailpipe, front or goblet squats are only for your legs and ass? FYI: the role of your core during squats is to stabilize your midline, so rest assured that shit is turned on. Not to mention, it takes a hell of a lot of core strength to remain braced and upright while you sit down with a heavy set of racked dumbbells or kettlebells.
- Overhead movements? Heavy carries? Step ups? Note that your trainer asks you to “brace your midsection” with all of these movements. Consider your core lit.
- Single arm carries, swings, rows, etc. We mentioned “anti-rotation” earlier. This is that! When your trainer asks you to “minimize rotation through the midsection” during the pull element of your renegade row, for example, that anti-rotation and stabilization puts any “3 minute ab” routine to shame.
- Kettlebell swing….you should basically be in an upright plank when you stand to extension. Once again, the cue to “visibly contract your glutes AND ABS at the top of the movement” should be a pretty good indicator.
- What about the Skierg? Sure, it’s labeled as a cardio element, but when you drive your hips back and drop your weight into the ropes, you’re generating power through your core.
- Broad jumps...are literally violent plyometrics for your abs. If your midsection isn't aching the day (or two...or three) after performing these, you may have attacked them incorrectly (shocker...we’re really blunt around here)
- How about boxing, aka “torque”? Core to extremity power! Yes, you strike with your fists, but you naturally tighten and contract your abs when you transfer your weight and throw your hips into the bag to make contact. Next time you throw a hook, pay attention to what your core is doing...you might have a light bulb moment!
We could list out 90% of our movement library, but we think you’re probably starting to smell what we’re cooking.
If you find yourself romanced by the abs you see on the cover of Men’s or Women’s Health, you’re not alone...just avert your eyes from the bogus promise of a six pack if you do crunches every day for “X” amount of time.
We’ve never been an “isolation”-driven program, and we never will be - same reason you won’t see us banging out bicep curls or calf raises. If you like getting your toe touches on outside of the MADhouse, have at it! But when you come through our doors to train, know that we’re going to do just that...train you (...and your core).