Core training is essential to every woman’s program.
Your core is supposed to stabilize your entire body. It’s like your fitness insurance policy against the random occurrences in life.
Your core is also supposed to strengthen your entire body. It’s what provides power in your deadlift and squat. It’s what helps you pick up heavy things off the ground.
But, unfortunately, most women get it wrong.
The following are the top 3 core training exercises to stay away from.
3 Core Training Exercises Women Need To Stop Doing NOW
- Stop Doing Crunches
Please stop. For the love of all that is holy please stop.
Sit-ups are one of the worst exercises you can do for your core and can actually cause damage in your low back.
You may be thinking, “I’ve done crunches for years and never have had a problem.”
That’s great, but just because you don’t feel pain or discomfort doesn’t mean you aren’t doing long term damage your discs or spine.
Stuart McGill, is one of the leading experts in spinal motions and core stability.
“Repetitive bending (flexion) of the spine can, over time, damage the spinal discs because it places extreme amount of force into the discs.”
Crunches take your body out of natural alignment and wreck havoc on your delicate spine.
And they’re not even effective for training your core.
Crunches only work the superficial surface muscles of your core.
You won’t get the intrinsic core strength you can get from other core exercises that work everything from transverse abdominals to the pelvic floor.
Also, crunches can also make you look pregnant!
If you have diastasi recti (abdominal separation), which more than 2/3 of new moms get but anyone can have, then crunches can cause more damage then good.
Crunches can cause you to continue to look pregnant, because they bulk up your abs giving you a bloated look.
Exercise to Start Doing – The RKC Plank
The RKC plank works the ENTIRE core.
It’s one of the best exercises for core conditioning because it also works the glutes, hamstrings and your lower back.
RKC planks are the BEST planks to do because they intensify the exercise to work the deeper core muscles.
Watch this video to get an idea of how to do an RKC plank the right way:
2. Stop Doing Sit-Ups
If doing crunches was bad for your back, doing sit-ups is 2x worse.
It was found that both bent and straight legged sit-ups place over 3,000 N of force (about 674 lbs) on the lower spine!
In a study from June 1995 in “Clinical Biomechanics,” McGill looks at how the sit-up affects the lower spine.
“This amount of force can promote bulges or herniations of your discs, nerve damage or even compression of the vertebra.”
The problem is that some women insist on doing them even when they are physically incapable of doing them.
I’ve seen countless women who have been unable to perform a sit-up and blame it on a “weak core”.
So they force their bodies to learn how to do a sit-up and in the process damaging their spines.
And…they don’t work at building your core.
Just like the abs they only work your surface muscles ignoring the 10+ other muscles you need to activate in your core.
Exercise to Start Doing – DeadBugs
One of the BEST core exercises to do are ones that resist lower back flexion. This is what makes the Deadbug the opposite exercise of crunches and sit ups.
Often women cannot move their hips without engaging their lower back muscles
Or they can’t raise their arms overhead without arching their backs and sticking their ribs out.
The Dead Bug fixes these issues by teaching you to isolate movement at the hips and shoulders without moving your spine.
Improving this movement pattern is important, because it protects your spine from movements it was not designed to handle.
Here’s how to do a proper Deadbug:
3. Stop doing Twisting Sit-ups/Russian Twists
When you search for exercises that target the obliques you’ll come across the Russian Twist.
Chances are that you’ve done a couple of them in your own exercises.
Russian Twists require you to sit with your torso leaning back at a 45-degree angle, knees bent, and your feet either on the floor or elevated a few inches.
In most variations you hold something in front of your chest, usually a medicine ball or weight plate. From that starting position you rotate your shoulders to the left and right.
What you don’t realize is that it puts a ton of stress on the lumbar spine:
- The lower back is only able to rotate to 10 to 15 degress.
- Leaning back with your upper body unsupported puts your lumbar spine in a vulnerable position.
- When you twist side to side from that position it increases the risk especially if you add weight to the exercises.
There are way more effective ways to work your obliques that are less dangerous than Russian Twists and you’re about discover them very soon.
Exercise to Start Doing – Weighted Suitcase Carries
Suitcase carries are one of the most underrated core exercises on the planet.
If I told you that you can do one exercise that will…
- Make you stronger
- Work your inner and outer obliques
- Develop a stronger grip
- And strengthen your glutes
Would you do it? Of course you would.
This core exercise works your entire body from shoulders to feet and it isolates the oblique and glute to prevent you from side bending.
Here’s how to do a proper suitcase carry:
We Are a Hunchback Generation
If you spend the bulk of your day sitting in front of a computer screen or looking at your cell phone then you are in what is known as a Kyphotic Posture.
Kyphotic posture is what causes our backs to hunch over.
Crunches and sit ups only make this worse by repeatedly pushing our bodies into Kyphotic Posture.
This become a bigger problem when we decide to workout:
We take our bodies, which has been in a hunched back position for the past 8 hours, and do MORE hunchback based exercises (ie. crunches and sit-ups) in the gym.
We also try to perform a high intensity workout while our bodies are locked in bad posture.
This leads to pain, injuries and we end up pushing our bodies to work at a capacity it is not prepared for.
It stops now.
Cut these exercises from your weight training routine starting now and replace them with the exercises listed above.
Not only will save your lower back you’ll also have a stronger, more stable core to lift with.
Coach Dan is the founder of “Go Girl” transformation & fitness studio.