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“Good posture will get you more attention than nice abs ever will.”
~Yusuf Varzideh

Problem: Back Pain

Dear Past (Painful) Self,

Let’s talk about how tight abs can cause back pain.

Finally we are talking about your abs, right? Yes, but it’s not going to be what you think. I’m not here to tell you to work out your pack some more…I’m here to tell you to STOP DOING CRUNCHES AND SIT UPS.

Why would I say such a thing?!

Because think about this: Your rectus abdominis (which is the 8 pack that everyone wants to have) is designed to join your rib cage to your pelvis. Let’s take a look at what a sit up looks like while standing up:

Most of what we do these days is all forward in front of us.

Sitting, driving, typing, texting, etc. Most of us have spent the past “X” number of years flexing your abs already so much by all this sitting that your abs are MOST LIKELY overly tight.

How does this further facilitate imbalance?

So, when you go to do sit ups you are essentially tightening them even more further facilitating imbalance. What happens is you spend more time hunched over with bad posture because that 8-pack (whether it’s buried or not) is pulling that rib cage down causing your back to round. This does not equal a healthy spine over time. This imbalance is what causes a lot of BACK PAIN in our society.

How do we get back into balance then?

Instead of being IMBALANCED we can find more balance by not only exercising our backs twice as much, which I’ve already mentioned. But also, making sure we refrain from doing too many sit-ups and crunches. For my clients I told them to just avoid them altogether and instead to do functional movements (which use your core) and doing planks and other isometric exercises for the core.

Think about this:

Every time you do a crunch or sit up you are hunching your back dozens of times for sets! That is not healthy at all. It’s pretty obvious that the spine’s discs will not like that very much. So along with the sitting you also do a crap ton of ab work and you have a recipe for bulging discs.

Let me paint this picture for you:

Put two pieces of graham crackers on top of a marshmallow and then press on one side only for a dozen reps and what happens? That’s right: It’ll BULGE out the other side. The difference between humans and marshmallow as is that marshmallows don’t have nerves that innervate it. We do. Don’t ruin those puppies with your desire to have washboard abs.

I understand that you’re going to want some nice abs. Here’s what you can do instead:

Continue doing functional movements that engage your spine because that is the true core and be sure to tighten your abs and create that vacuum using the valsalva maneuver which will engage your entire core and you will see those puppies start the sculpt once your body fat begins to lower.

Doing sit ups WILL NOT burn the fat off your stomach.

That’s impossible. There’s no such thing as spot reduction. So, to prevent imbalance and harsh back pain avoid sit ups and crunches. What’s sexy is a good posture. Do more deadlifts. I promise you’ll be astounded at your results.

Avoid situps and crunches, do more deadlifts and other back exercises.

Your Future (Pain-Free) self