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Thread: Situps: Was told my entire adult life they are bad. Now, I love them again page

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    OnlyBodyWeight's Avatar
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    Situps: Was told my entire adult life they are bad. Now, I love them again

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    Tried doing 15 situps the other day. They were actually hard. I was shocked, b/c I do lots of other core stuff. Now, I do 100 situps as part of my workout. Somewhere, in the 1990s, we were brainwashed into thinking this was terrible for your back. I say bullshit. Just another fitness fad. I do them on a padded mat, and I feel fine. What about you?

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    Glamorama's Avatar
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    I've done a ton of different variations of crunches and push-ups in the last 2 months. No sore back for me either. I also do a lot of planks, I find I really have to focus on not dipping the back on those,because that makes me sore!

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    I've done situps regularly for years (almost 12 years in the Army, now) and just gotten away from them. I'm getting much better results from leg lifts and hanging leg raises (the Convict Conditioning progression). I never had back problems from situps, but I never had particularly good results from them either.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jfreaksho View Post
    I've done situps regularly for years (almost 12 years in the Army, now) and just gotten away from them. I'm getting much better results from leg lifts and hanging leg raises (the Convict Conditioning progression). I never had back problems from situps, but I never had particularly good results from them either.
    Oh yeah, forgot to say that I also do leg raises and hollow man etc. Overall I've had great results but I think it's more due to the planks and the HIIT, and also that I was fat when I started.

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    The theory (don't know if it's legit or not) is that doing crunches over and over again stresses the back by constantly flexing it, more than you would during the course of a normal day. I think that's supposed to cause inflammation around the spine or friction between the discs or something.

    Again, I have no clue if it's true or not, but I would think doing a few different types of planks would logically be better if you're worried.
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    Big Jim's Avatar
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    The problem that I (and others I know) have had with situps is the emphasis they place on the hip flexor muscles. Many people already have overly tight hip flexors from sitting at desks/couches/while driving. Tight hip flexors pull the pelvis into tilting forward and overly arching the lower back. This poor posture contributes to back problems.

    If you're going to do situps, I would make sure to really be stretching out the hip flexors afterward and also perform plenty of posterior chain exercises to work the glutes and lower back to balance out the hip flexors. Or better yet just ditch the situps in favor of more functional core exercises.

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    I saw the old fashioned "straight-legged sit up" in the old Charles Atlas course and at first thought the same conventional wisdom view of it. Then I tried them and found that they don't have any impact on my back. In fact, if you do them correctly I think they actually help the back.

    I read (maybe in Convict Conditioning, I don't remember) that in the steroid era, stomach muscles are more inclined to grow rather than how they used to respond prior to the juice. As such, bodybuilders had to drop "real" ab work like sit ups and hanging leg raises and drop to crunches so that they wouldn't have their stomach muscles get too thick looking. Don't know if it's true or not.

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    OnlyBodyWeight's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RitaRose View Post
    The theory (don't know if it's legit or not) is that doing crunches over and over again stresses the back by constantly flexing it, more than you would during the course of a normal day. I think that's supposed to cause inflammation around the spine or friction between the discs or something. .
    Thanks. So doing a few sets of 15 isn't going to kill me, clearly. Good example of a principle misapplied to the general masses. No one's doing 1000 situps a day, like the 1 guy who hurt himself in 1974

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    Kharnath's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Big Jim View Post
    Or better yet just ditch the situps in favor of more functional core exercises.
    I agree. The electromyography (EMG) studies conducted by Bret Contreras and others clearly indicate that crunches are suboptimal for working out your abdominals. The big winner in the abdominals EMG study was chinups - much to the surprise of the people who performed the experiments.

    Hanging leg raises are right up there with chinups though.

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    If there's no underlying issue, situps probably won't cause too much damage. But there are much better exercises...

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