T Nation

Abs and Long Term Spinal Health


Hi Christian,

After reading your article on abs training which came out recently, I was wondering if your method didn’t clash with your goal of optimizing your body for older age. To be more specific, isn’t any spinal flexion mouvement bad for long term back health. I was wondering this because I was listening to a podcast with Stuart Mcgill and he seems to be against most spinal flexion mouvements unless it is specific to the type of movement for which the individual trains.


I do almost no spinal flexion. Thats the whole point of the article


Let me rephrase my question.

Knowing how spinal flexion may cause negative consequences down the line, why do you include de cable crunch and ab crunch? (i.e. why do the pros of these mouvements outweigh the cons of a bad back)

Also I just want to make sure this doesn’t come out as a critique, I am simply trying to understand why ab crunches of any kind are necessary if you can already tense your abs correctly and have a good mind-muscle connection.


If your mind muscle connection is really good I don’t believe there is any need for those isolation exercises! Though to put it into perspective people have been doing sit ups crunches etc since time began :slight_smile: without much issue!! But for me personally I tend to get all the stimulation I need from the big compound movements!! So I don’t do these but if my muscle mind could nbection was poor then I’d do them just to increase recruitment! I find isolation work of any kind do boring it just ruins my motivation so I very rarely include it unless I’m trying to solve an issue! It looks like Christian has a good recruitment of his abs so is be interested to hear his thoughts and if he feels there if use if you e already got good recruitment


I normally don’t do them often.

Rea the article: “I’ll use isolation exercises for three weeks in a row and then not at all for a while (4-6 weeks).” … in fact sometimes I can spend 2 months without doing any. And when I do it, it’s not heavy.

I use them only when I feel that I’m less efficient at utilizing my abs in the big lifts (which does happen).

I would say that on average I use them 2 weeks out of 7. And I believe that there is zero risk to that. At one point we do have to stop being pussies. If we look at the inherent risk of all the exercises, we wouldn’t do anything. The fact that I’m doing a ton o stabilization work for my core more than make up or any potential risk of crunches.

It is also my experience that to get the best 6 pack one need some crunches. I know that I have a visual improvement when I do them. Is it vein? Sure. But I think there are a lot more things I need to worry about that doing 3 set of crunches per day 2 weeks out of 7