As I was saying, a primary function of the core is stabilization and the best core exercises typically are the big compound exercises -- the ones that require the most stabilization from the core. Lift heavy with compound freeweight exercises and you won't need much if any supplemental "core" exercises. Shockingly, people who can pull 400 off the floor or push 200 over their heads tend to be pretty damn strong the core. Yes, for some people the core is a limiting factor -- powerlifters do a ton of anterior core work, for example.
You really have to think about the muscles in terms of their function. Plank variations are a good exercise (stabilization); crunches are mostly not. Turkish get-ups are tremendous core exercises.
The two best core exercises are the deadlift and the squat.
Shouldn't the Times article read Extra Core Training Not Necessary for Rowing ?
Considering It was the NY times, and not a dedicated training publication I was a bit skeptical and as Gypsy Jazz commented it looks like studies have been taken out of context.
Still some lardasses will I'm sure use it as another excuse not to do exercise.
But honestly didn't know that bit about damaging the spine, it was something I never thought to question. Coupled with weights training I used to do a shed load of crunches 'cause I thought it was beneficial.
Slightly tangental to the discussion but I've only recently started to make a proper recovery from a serious lower back injury from almost 20 years ago. After years of physio and dealing with chiropractors I tried an osteopath who got me started on Foundation Roots program which has pretty much eliminated constant lower back pain. It pretty much turns the traditional idea of core strength on its head and focuses on the posterior chain and back as opposed to the abs. This quote sums it up "The core involves two sets of muscles: deep muscles whose roles are primarily stabilizing the spine, or more generally the trunk, and shallower muscles whose primary role is movement" "For every four exercises you do for the back of the body, you get to do one for the front. I think that's the opposite of what most people are doing."
Anyway, here's the website http://foundationroots.com/home I'd recommend the book to anyone with back pain or an interest in core development.
Kinda on topic: My muay thai trainer has me focus almost solely on situps and running for exercises (I mean aside from jumping rope, shadowboxing, bagwork, etc) and every fighter has a 6 pack. He said it's to make "armor" for your gut from knees. I don't know anything about whether crunches will destroy your spine, or whether core-strength is useless for crew, but is there any truth behind this "gut-shield-of-muscle"?
yes. it's muscle. it's around your guts (literally), and you'de making it stronger.
Originally Posted by WorldWarCheese
I've given up on standard crunches for the past year. I'm not certain that they were related to my lower back problems, but the possibility made me look for other exercises. My back hasn't bothered me in more than a year, but that may be resultant on other things.
My abs routine looks like a combination of these exercises.
Pallof press-hold for 30 seconds (Best thing I've found, and you can really up the weight here)
Planks for 60.
Weighted sit-ups on a decline bench.
Medicine ball twists while sitting on a balance ball.
Jack Knifes on a big bouncy ball.
I have half a dozen other techniques but these are the ones I mostly stick with. They leave a better longer burn than just sit-ups did.
Anti-crunch articles (anti spinal flexion articles) come out every day, saying that crunches are either dangerous or ineffective. Res Judica pretty much hit the nail on the head. A primary function of the core is STABILIZATION and people who deadlift or push press heavy are strong the core.
Spinal flexion is not necessary to work the core! What I was saying before Pizdoff told me to come here was that real core training (planks, squats, ect) will actually correct bad posture, which means better performance in ALL lifts, and prevents injury.
“Personally, I do not believe that it is necessary to specifically train the core". Improper crunches don't lead to better performance therefore all core training is useless." I'm not even going to respond to this.
Here's some food for thought. Edmar Freitas did 133,986 crunches in 30 hours, killing his record of 111,000 in one day. Pacquiao crunches 4,000 times every day and Herschel Walker has been crunching 3,500 times a day, he starting crunching when he was 12. He's now 49.
Some people are more worried about crunches being dangerous than ineffective. Here's the thing. Studies say that spinal extension is bad, spinal rotation is bad, lateral bending is bad, that static compression is bad, dynamic compression is bad, etc, and I can probably source them all. This means that any movement, or lack of movement, of the spine is bad for you. Ironically enough, those with the strongest core are in less danger of injuries (when lifts and exercises are performed correctly).
If you're going to crunch, work the muscles and not the spine. It's as simple as that. Your spine shouldn't flex to max capacity when doing crunches.
If your trainer is making you do countless crunches, you might have to do them due to a respect issue (Some trainers get angry when you question them), but honestly - are you trying to get stronger or are you trying to get some cardio in? Doing 300 crunches is like doing 300 squats - maybe it's time you add some weight and actually get stronger instead of gaining muscular endurance at an extremely weak level. If there's so much weight that you can only do sets of 6-20 reps, there will be more STRENGTH gain, better muscular endurance gain, and depending on your diet, more hypertrophy. Yes, your abs will look big and intimidating, and you won't look like a 13-year old teenager that thinks he's tough because he has low bodyfat.
Joking aside, remember, we are not normal athletes. We play a game where other people attack our anatomy hard and often (striking and grappling) so a strong core is NECESSARY TO US, much more necessary than rowers.
Just my 2 cents.