Daily Archives: February 7, 2012

Properly Building Core Strength: A Reminder About the Dangers of Sit-ups


We are told that having a strong core will prevent back problems. So what do health-conscious people do? They engage their core, putting themselves through tireless workouts that pair countless sit-ups with the beat of music. The problem with this picture is that standard sit-ups actually do more damage than good to the back.  That’s right. Word on the street is the traditional sit-up is NOT good for you.

Dr. Richard Guyer from The Texas Black Institute explains that the “crunch” part of crunches will strain your back at its weakest point. The segment of your spine with the most nerves (and therefore most potential for nerve damage) is the actual section that bends and strains during a traditional sit-up.

Now, I know for most of us, we are not sad about this news. When we first heard it, we maybe incorporated this tidbit into our concept of reality a little too readily. After all, now we have scientific support to back our unpopular choice to lay on the mat during the sit-up part of the exercise routine, hoping the instructor didn’t notice our lack of participation. Wrong. Just because traditional sit-ups are hard on your back does not mean that you are off the hook for toning and sculpting that abdomen of yours. We all still need to support our back through a proper and safe core building exercise regimen.

This five minute video by Stuart McGill  demonstrates some functional and safe core workouts that can get you started.

My favorite core workout exercise highlighted in the video is the balancing one, where you alternate your arms and legs.

Another favorite abdominal muscle-building exercise I enjoy is the Plank Pose.

What is your favorite core building exercise?

What do you do to protect and support your back?