Why you need to train your abs:
1. Injury Prevention
2. Improved Posture
3. Improved Gym Performance
Strong abs are important no matter what you lifting goals are. When most people talk about their abs or “core” they usually are only referring to their abdominal muscles. In reality your “core” includes the abdominal muscles as well as the muscles of the back and spine. Contrary to what most think, the abdominal and other core muscles are not meant to create movement, they are meant to prevent it. Their primary function is anti-rotation, anti-flexion, and anti-extension. In order for the abs to do their job properly then the joints surrounding them must be doing their as well. Fairly often if you look at someone with back pain you’ll see that the hips are locked up tight and their upper back (thoracic spine) is locked up tight as well. This forces the lower back to compensate for the lack of mobility in those two areas by loosening what is supposed to be a very stable area. This coupled up with a steady diet of crunches, sit ups, russian twists, and improperly performed back extensions is a recipe for back pain and dysfunction.
If you didn’t follow along with all that here are the cliff notes:
1. Loosen Up Your Hips- Defranco’s Agile 8 among other things works great and is easy to perform. FWIW, if you have back pain and are blaming it on tight hamstrings you need to think again. Most likely your hip flexors are far to tight which rocks your pelvis and low back out of alignment forcing your hamstrings to get tight and stay that way. Stretch your hip flexors and see if that doesn’t help.
2. Pick Abdominal STABILITY Movements over Mobility Movements- Start with the basics like planks then move into something where you move around a stable base such as Stir the Pots, Pallof Presses, or Body Saws.
By focusing on those 3 areas you will then actually be able to move your hips, shoulders, and upper back through proper ranges of motion and allow your core to remain nice and stable like it needs to be. Once you have those three taken care of then you can move into some more advanced movements but until you can create stability then don’t try to create movement!