Sunday, January 18, 2009

Abdominal Training for Idiots

Abdominal training, core training, functional trunk training...whatever you like to call it is something that I've always struggled to understand. Now it isn't that I didn't understand how to do it more that I didn't understand what the hell so many other people were trying to do when they were doing it.

I've had athletes boast about doing 500 sit ups a night...about being able to do bridges for 5 minutes...so what?

Doing even a hundred sit ups is just plain stupid...if I told you that I did some bench pressing and that I did 3 sets of 100 reps what would that tell you...I mean if you didn't know how totally jakt I was...pretend for a second that I was a normal trainee. Ask yourself this question...what do you think this would achieve? Now, 1 set of 100 reps you could make some sort of argument for...perhaps as a set of 100 to failure or near failure...but 3 sets? How easy would the 1st and 2nd sets have to be to be able to get out the 3rd set? It doesn't make any sense to me...but I see this sort of thing in programs all the time.

I won't continue to go into all the stupid ab/core/trunk training there is out there because I just don't have the time. Instead I will tell you briefly what I tend to do.

For me there are only a few ways to train your trunk (that's what I call it...because I tend to throw in back and hip extension work into this group as well). You either do it statically or dynamically or pick exercises that combine elements of both and you either do it in a single or multiple plains. While you are doing any or all of these things you do it in 8-20 rep range. Obviously the 8 rep stuff is done quite heavily and the higher stuff is obviously lighter. The 'feel' of this work though is the same as it is for any other muscle group and exercises.

Now once you can hold a bridge for a minute and do do 50 consecutive sit ups you need loading...just doing more reps is like doing bicep curls with the pen that you fill your diary out with...in that you can do all the reps you like...nothing is going to happen.

So we tend to start out easily with simple flat and side bridges/planks...this is easy static work. We use weighted ab pull downs and lower ab raises...simple dynamic work. As people progress the loading increases as does the complexity of the exercises to the extent that a lot of people looking at the exercises wouldn't even know that they were intended to target the trunk.

I am going to put this on my list of stuff to cover...so far we have neck strengthening work and trunk training...oh yeah...and that other tonne of stuff I said I'd do and then forgot about.

2 comments:

garrett said...

If you have someone with very tight hip flexors that doesent have access to an ab pulldown setup what trunk/core exercises would you give them that would minimise the involvement of the hip flexors

Will Heffernan said...

garrett said...
If you have someone with very tight hip flexors that doesent have access to an ab pulldown setup what trunk/core exercises would you give them that would minimise the involvement of the hip flexors.
You could try a Bicycle Crunch and Abdominal Crunch on an Exercise Ball for starters.

What you are talking about though like just about all exercise is a technical issue and a matter of execution. I can do any exercise just about and give you two views of it and in one I could do it properly and in the other I could do it poorly and to anyone viewing it they could barely tell the difference.