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Old 03-30-2012, 01:56 PM   #1
John Powell
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Anyone dumped situps?

I am recovering from a back injury and have been doing lots of reading, especially regarding the danger of situps and other lumbar flexion+compression movements.

As a trainer, I am seriously contemplating taking them out of our regular programming. We don't do them a lot as it stands now (maybe 1-2/month), especially high consecutive reps. Obvsiouly competitive athletes may want to throw them in sometimes, but for the rest, I don't want to see them with back injuries.

Have any individuals or affiliates dumped them and if so, what was the response.
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Old 03-30-2012, 02:22 PM   #2
David Meverden
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Re: Anyone dumped situps?

I haven't read anything about safety risks (I'd be curious to see how an ab mat relates to that too. I find situps with an abmat more comfortable) but I will say that there are a lot of great abdominal exercises out there so that situps are by no means necessary.

Standing or kneeling ab work is a great option advocated by Louie Simmons, Jim Wendler likes hanging toe touches (easily scalable to knee raises or leg raises), ab wheels can be great if they are strong enough and body aware enough to keep from over-arching the back. And of course any large whole body lift will work the core and abs as well, so if you use good exercises you probably don't need that much ab training anyway.

So, in conclusion, I see no reason that regular situps are a necessary component of a fitness routine. Not QUITE what you were asking, but hopefully helpful.
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Old 03-30-2012, 02:38 PM   #3
Richard Colon
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Re: Anyone dumped situps?

I recently returned from an amazing non-Crossfit related certification by a fitness pro, trainer and overall badass dude.

The guy has trained NFL athletes, trained (I think hundreds) that were eventually drafted into the NFL, is a consultant for NFL teams, actively trains UFC champions, written books and is huge in the martial arts conditioning world.

Anyhow, the dude knows his $hit, period and without any doubt. There was a specific point where he talked about the significance and massive frequency of the sit-up movement in the world of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He was asked about a similar thing, the whole "its bad for you and/or your back sort of thing".

His response was simple but explained over several minutes and brought up often throughout the weekend. Horse$hit. It is a valid and important movement, but like any other - just a single movement. Too much of anything can be detrimental so every single AB day doesn't need sit-ups. Every single day of 'strengthening core' doesn't need sit-ups. However, to eliminate them from programming is a massive disadvantage to your overall success in training (again, he was referring to BJJ guys).

For example, the cert was filled with trainers - generally all fit dudes in their respective fields. They could all do well at any Crossfit gym. I didn't say they could qualify for the games but everyone there had 400 deadlifts, they could all Row sub 1:40 500m, they could all run around the 1m mark for 400m, do dozens of pull-ups, etc. Not all at once ala Crossfit but you get the point.

Some weren't too consistent with sit-ups as of late. He took us through some "sit-up" testing stuff and it broke some people. Not broke as in injured, but it was a wake up call. No one expected it to be THAT tough...

Its a long ramble but I figured I'd lend my recent experience in an audience of generally in shape, some pro level competitors being taught by one of the baddest fitness coaches/trainers/teachers in the world (in my opinion).

Now, SDHP (sumo dead high pulls), GHD sit-ups (yes THOSE sit-ups), O/H KB Swings and 4,000 Air Squats for time...now that is where I might focus my concerns.

On the specific note, and yes I was in the room with a couple of gracie trained BJJ black belts, they ALL mentioned how they believed their dudes had some of the strongest core strength of any in fitness and how they ALL consistently did and respected the sit-up. It may not be for everyone, but I have found that when people are hurting from it, the problem is not the sit-up but something else entirely - like a weak low back. I address that and use the sit-up as an eventual progression point because I believe in it. I don't however, just eliminate the movement. It represents too much for me.

Last edited by Richard Colon : 03-30-2012 at 02:42 PM.
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Old 03-30-2012, 02:54 PM   #4
Donald Lee
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Re: Anyone dumped situps?

If I do a situp/crunch-type movement, I prefer doing it with some form of lumbar support (e.g., Ab-mat, Swiss ball). The current gym I'm at has decline ab machines with lumbar support. The lumbar support allows the abs to go through a greater ROM and allows you to isolate your abs more easily.

BTW. the latest Stuart McGill T-Nation interview is worth reading (WFS):

http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_..._mcgill_part_i

http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_...mcgill_part_ii
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Old 03-30-2012, 02:58 PM   #5
Mauricio Leal
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Re: Anyone dumped situps?

L-sit and planche progressions are vastly superior IMHO. Stall bars are also helpful if you have access. Leverage is better than weight. Use toes to bar in metcons to build ab endurance, and brace hard in all your heavy lifts.
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Old 03-30-2012, 03:14 PM   #6
John Powell
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Re: Anyone dumped situps?

David,

I have used most of these and they are excellent substitutes.

Richard,

That makes sense and I see the functionality of the situp not only in BJJ but in everyday life.

The stuff that I have read on the topic are from a spine specialist, Stuart McGill, who argues that spine and disks have a "life span" or tolerance to load before they become damaged. He has studied various "ab" movements and found the situp to be among the worst for spinal compression partnered with lumbar flexion/rounding.

He likens the core musculature to guy wires holding up a mast on sailboat and says that they need to be balanced in order to stabilize and support the spine. He says that if the abdominals were meant to pull the ribs to the pelvis (a la situp), they would be designed like the hamstrings or biceps.

Not saying I agree with this, but it is interesting nonetheless. I don't think that the situp is in any way a precision movement though that needs to be trained to improve, as long as the same muscles are being trained in other ways.
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Old 03-30-2012, 03:19 PM   #7
John Powell
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Re: Anyone dumped situps?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Donald Lee View Post
If I do a situp/crunch-type movement, I prefer doing it with some form of lumbar support (e.g., Ab-mat, Swiss ball). The current gym I'm at has decline ab machines with lumbar support. The lumbar support allows the abs to go through a greater ROM and allows you to isolate your abs more easily.

BTW. the latest Stuart McGill T-Nation interview is worth reading (WFS):

http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_..._mcgill_part_i

http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_...mcgill_part_ii
Thanks Donald, I've read both of these as well as Ultimate Back Fitness and Performance. I'm currently reading Low Back Disorders. His stuff has set me on the path to healing after 7 months of trying other things, with no improvement, so I tend to listen to what he has to say.
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Old 03-30-2012, 03:25 PM   #8
Richard Colon
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Re: Anyone dumped situps?

Hey John, I get where you're coming from.

I agree and good point here: I don't think that the situp is in any way a precision movement though that needs to be trained to improve, as long as the same muscles are being trained in other ways.

I will add that the exact Stuart McGill reference and the sailboat was the reference used when talking about the pro's and con's.

All in all it is just a tool. There are always better ways for everything. I am hesitant to dismiss tools lately. For some it works well, others not so much. Adding or removing it will not make or break your program. I just like to question everything. I train 2 doctors - cardiac surgeon and cardiac intensive/specialist.

They bring up a lot of things about various things. In a sense, I am training to defy what medicine and science tells me I can and cannot do. It is always a risk/reward thing. For the masses, perhaps the other movements and ways of training those muscles are a greater reward vs. the risk of sit-up damage. For the group below...it may be the reverse.

Perhaps it is all just about who it is geared for. L-Sit and Planche may be better and safer on the whole but in that room, with 1 guy heading to Abu Dhabi for BJJ Championships and 2 other black belts in the room, he concluded (the lecturer) with...McGill is most likely correct, however, if you don't train sit-ups SPECIFICALLY every once in a while, well...that is EXACTLY the movement you will be making when on the mat or trying to stand up. It is your call.
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Old 03-30-2012, 03:45 PM   #9
John Powell
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Re: Anyone dumped situps?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Colon View Post

I will add that the exact Stuart McGill reference and the sailboat was the reference used when talking about the pro's and con's.
Just curious, other than it being argued that fighters need to train it specifically for their sport, was there any arguments that it is in fact a safe movement? Did he dispute McGill's arguments or just say that it is required for MMA?
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Old 04-02-2012, 10:35 PM   #10
Eric Shuty
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Re: Anyone dumped situps?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Colon View Post
Hey John, I get where you're coming from.

. [[b]I agree and good point here: I don't think that the situp is in any way a precision movement though that needs to be trained to improve, as long as the same muscles are being trained in other ways/B]

I will add that the exact Stuart McGill reference and the sailboat was the reference used when talking about the pro's and con's.

All in all it is just a tool. There are always better ways for everything. I am hesitant to dismiss tools lately. For some it works well, others not so much. Adding or removing it will not make or break your program. I just like to question everything. I train 2 doctors - cardiac surgeon and cardiac intensive/specialist.

They bring up a lot of things about various things. In a sense, I am training to defy what medicine and science tells me I can and cannot do. It is always a risk/reward thing. For the masses, perhaps the other movements and ways of training those muscles are a greater reward vs. the risk of sit-up damage. For the group below...it may be the reverse.

Perhaps it is all just about who it is geared for. L-Sit and Planche may be better and safer on the whole but in that room, with 1 guy heading to Abu Dhabi for BJJ Championships and 2 other black belts in the room, he concluded (the lecturer) with...McGill is most likely correct, however, if you don't train sit-ups SPECIFICALLY every once in a while, well...that is EXACTLY the movement you will be making when on the mat or trying to stand up. It is your call.
I disagree. I was in the Army for 7 years so it's fair to say that I've done my fair share of sit ups. That being said, if you don't train at least a little bit specifically for the push up and the sit up you will do fewer of both. I've seen it and I've lived it. You can be in great overall shape and not max the Army pt test on thses events if you don't do them....

That being said, I think the sit up is another good tool in the arsenal. Done with feet support it works abs, legs, and hips. As far as the dangers of sit ups I just don't see them. In my years in the Army I was battered and abused by the service and by myself (long distance running and competitive powerlifting)....at no time was injury via sit up really what worried me.
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