Despite being used the world all over by people from all walks of life, here is what traditional ab exercises allegedly do according to the authors.
Crunches – They only target the rectus abdominis, and since your rectus abdominis runs from the top to the bottom of your stomach, regular crunches cannot shrink your waist, they can even make your belly stick out more. We are not too sure about the last statement, as a tout rectus abdominis muscle would not stick out, only fat on top of it would make it stick out.
Side Bends – Useless to flatten bellies or even to “eliminate love handles”. This is allegedly because the oblique muscles function is to rotate your upper body left and right rather then bending it from side to side. They may even cause injury by “improperly coordinating the stabilizers of your core.” While we appreciate that side bends may not be the best movement around to activate safely and effectively the obliques, we are less convinced about the”love handles” issue. Love handles are just extra fat, and again that has more to do with diet rather than exercise, right or wrong.
Sit-Ups – They can cause back injury. The movement is highly stressful to the spine and can cause disk herniation. The authors back up their claim with a study by Dr. Stuart McGill that showed that repetitive flexion and extension of the spine while doing sit-ups caused spinal disk herniation. You can read more here and here. However, the authors go on saying that because sit-ups target the rectus abdominis muscles it means that it can cause not just injury but also your belly to get bigger. Again, we think this is a bit of a marketing exaggeration. Fat is the culprit here, not the spine or the rectus abdominis.
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