Q: What's the best way to get a six-pack?
A: Go to the store and ask for Corona...
…not really – well, not the kind of six-pack I’m talking about anyway. Beer won’t do anything to strengthen your core and will most likely leave you feeling (and looking) bloated.
Loaded sit-ups, planks, floor-wipers, reverse crunches, hanging abs -- I could go on and on with core activities that we could do regularly. They’re all great and good to help with core stability and spinal flexion. Spinal flexion is essentially bending forward – what we do when we do a crunch or pick something up off the floor. (Flexion is the opposite of extension – bending backward.) Again, while sit-ups and reverse crunches and other well-known movements can be effective to strengthen the core, new research shows that something else blows all these activities out of the water when it comes to strengthening the core and getting the six-pack you want. The most recent study shown in the NSCA journal of Sports Science, hooked electrodes up to the rectus abdominas, our abdominal muscles, to measure the level of activation experienced during certain activities. The crunch, sit up and plank, were measured against the variations of the squat and deadlift. The squat and the deadlift were proven to activate the core in some cases 100 times more than the crunch, sit up, and plank. The study was performed with an empty barbell and up to 70% of the heaviest loads each participant could lift, and in all cases, the squat and deadlift came out on top.
Not only do the squat and the deadlift help with building stronger abs but both movements are far more functional that sit ups, crunches, and planks. Squats and deadlifts are bigger movers – they enable us to be more efficient with our workouts because we use more muscles to do a squat than a plank. We engage our quads, gluts, hamstrings, core, and much more when doing squats and deadlifts. Not to mention that these movements look natural – they’re movements we were built to do. Sitting down and picking things up off the ground are activities we need to do to live our daily lives. I can’t think of a daily living situation that requires us to hold a plank position or do a crunch.
Get ready to squat and deadlift next week.
See you in the gym!
Ps – please don’t misunderstand me. We’ll still do planks, as well as butterfly and loaded sit-ups from time to time!