Thursday, February 10, 2011



Now that we have effectively mobilized stubborn belly fat through the 10-second bursts of total-body exercises, we now turn our focus on to the abs part of this program, and in particular, how to begin to integrate core stability training to sculpt a tight, well-defined midsection.

And with any sound training plan, core stabilization moves are the critical component.

Unless you’ve been hiding out in a cave the past couple of years, you now know that doing crunches and situps will not only NOT help you get flat abs but most likely WILL cause you some serious back or neck pain at some point down the line if it doesn’t already.

All crunches and sit-ups do is work your superficial ab muscles (the 6-pack muscles, aka rectus abdominus) and promote excessive flexion of the lumbar spine which can result in serious spinal injuries like bulging or herniated discs.

On top of that, crunches and situps don’t train your deep abdominal stabilizers which are critical to helping you maintain a neutral pelvic and spinal position for optimal health and perfomance.The 21st century approach to core training emphasizes stabilization in all 3 planes of movement: sagittal plane (front to back and up and down), frontal plane (side to side), and transverse plane (rotational).

More specifically, the true goal of proper core training is to teach anti-flexion, anti-extension, and anti-rotation through various static and dynamic core stability exercises like front, side, and reverse plank variations, hip-extension variations, bird dog variations, etc.

Why 10-second core stability holds?

Well, it’s simple - it’s all about QUALITY over QUANTITY!

When most people perform core stability holds for 30-60 seconds they tend to spend a majority of the time in compensated positions because of the fatigue factor. And when you do sacrifice form your missing out the maximum benefits from the exercise the right way.

However, when we shift the focus on maximum activation and contraction with short, focused 10-second holds we get more bang for our buck. And by alternating between a total body exercise and core stability exercise we best mitigate cumulative fatigue and prevent big losses in form and technique.

So, with that, which option below sounds like the wiser choice:

Perform a low intensity, wobbly front plank for minutes on end OR perform many sets of maximum effort 10-second front plank holds with perfect form and technique?

If you choose the last one your right. Even if you ended up with the same total amount of time between the two, the last one would reap the most benefits because it was performed at a much higher intensity with much greater technique.

This whole concept is similar to what legendary strength coach Charles Staley popularized with the whole Escalating Density Training (EDT): basically shorter sets allow for maximum intensity and maximum intensity delivers maximum results!

Does this mean you should never again do a 30 - 60 second core exercise again?

No! Long duration core stability holds have their place for endurance athletes or people with advanced core stability.

But it does mean that 20 seconds is the optimal length of time to work on isometric core stability and it’s most likely a better fit for the general population, especially at the entry-level core programming.

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