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Interesting Spine Videos, Thoughts?

Mark Young has recently done a three part video series on the spine where he uses pig spines to demonstrate what he believes to be the dangers of different exercises.

The first is on how the spine responds to rotational work like Russian twists…
http://markyoungtrainingsystems.com/2009/11/dissecting-the-spine-part-i/

The second relates to spinal flexion…
http://markyoungtrainingsystems.com/2009/11/dissecting-the-spine-part-ii-why-crunches-suck/

And finally the third video looks at compressive loads and goes into squatting particularly…
http://markyoungtrainingsystems.com/2009/11/dissecting-the-spine-part-iii-dangers-of-squatting/

There has recently been quite a bit of talk from a few leading coaches about focusing more on unilateral lower body work in place of the traditional back squat. I love squats, but I’m the first to admit that I’m no kind of expert when it comes to spinal health and the effects of training on the spine. I’d like anybody with more knowledge and experience than myself to weigh in here with their opinions and ideas on these topics. If a person isn’t training to be a powerlifter, but is training for bodybuilding purposes or as an athlete to get stronger for their chosen sport, is it time to drop squats all together?

Thanks for the vids, will get to watching them. In the meantime:

[quote]PJ84 wrote:
If a person isn’t training to be a powerlifter, but is training for bodybuilding purposes or as an athlete to get stronger for their chosen sport, is it time to drop squats all together?[/quote]

Lots of people will defend squats for bodybuilding, they are a great tool for this, but not the only tool.
And for sports, it depends on the sport. If you surfboard, maybe heavy squats won’t do much for you. If you are a football lineman, you damn well better be doing squats (and front squats).
Personally, I would NEVER ‘Drop squats altogether’, they are definitely not contraindicted, so there is no reason to fully abandon them.

Edit: You said that coaches are emphasizing unilateral work more ‘In place’ of back squats, are you sure it’s not ‘In addition to’?

Edit2: Just watched the videos, it appears to me that the guy is showing that when the spine moves compression occurs in the ‘padding’ between the vertabrae, then says that this compression will cause injury. A pretty big jump to make IMO, without studies.

And why does everyone who seems to be against heavy squats seem to look like they barely lift weights?

That’s all fine and dandy, but without addressing how the muscular system and skeletal system respond to these loads in unison, isn’t one leaving a large part out of the equation?

While I agree with what the guy is saying to a degree, this type of information is in conclusive. We are not simply torn out spines walking around and twisting, bending, and being put under compression. You have a whole host of muscles and ligaments working together when you do an exercise like a squat. There is no mention of your lats, traps, layers of abdominals, erectors… and many others.

I will admit that bending and rotation together is not a great thing for discs, in my opinion.

So are you saying that doing a sit up and then rotating is not good for the discs Bonechiro?

What do you think about Weighted Decline Sit-ups?

[quote]PJ84 wrote:
Mark Young has recently done a three part video series on the spine where he uses pig spines to demonstrate what he believes to be the dangers of different exercises.

The first is on how the spine responds to rotational work like Russian twists…
http://markyoungtrainingsystems.com/2009/11/dissecting-the-spine-part-i/

The second relates to spinal flexion…
http://markyoungtrainingsystems.com/2009/11/dissecting-the-spine-part-ii-why-crunches-suck/

And finally the third video looks at compressive loads and goes into squatting particularly…
http://markyoungtrainingsystems.com/2009/11/dissecting-the-spine-part-iii-dangers-of-squatting/

There has recently been quite a bit of talk from a few leading coaches about focusing more on unilateral lower body work in place of the traditional back squat. I love squats, but I’m the first to admit that I’m no kind of expert when it comes to spinal health and the effects of training on the spine. I’d like anybody with more knowledge and experience than myself to weigh in here with their opinions and ideas on these topics. If a person isn’t training to be a powerlifter, but is training for bodybuilding purposes or as an athlete to get stronger for their chosen sport, is it time to drop squats all together?[/quote]

Awesome, thanks for that.

About the no squatting thing… just gotta keep in mind that most people don’t have the same goals as this site’s population.

Thanks for your responses. I’m certainly not ready to go dropping squats from my own routine right now, I’ve seen far too many benefits from using them in my own training. I was interested to see other people’s take on this though all the same.

It’s one of those real “can of worms” type situations though. It’s been a staple of pretty much every strength training program for some time and it seems like one or two coaches around the place are quite controversially, starting to think again. Mike Boyle seems to be for dropping the traditional back squat altogether, he talks about it in this little clip here…
http://www.functionalstrengthcoach3.com/squats.html

[quote]rasturai wrote:
So are you saying that doing a sit up and then rotating is not good for the discs Bonechiro?

What do you think about Weighted Decline Sit-ups?[/quote]

Although anecdotal, I have heard that twisting during a crunch is asking to be put into a wheelchair (And really, what benefit does that exercise offer that can’t be replaced by other exercises?)

And the latter, I find those too hard to isolate the abs (rather than the hip flexors) safely, so I don’t do them.

Just do lunges then.

Those videos made me very, very hungry.

Apparently Deadlifts aren’t a criminal of this guy? I know a lot of ‘‘ab’’ exercises tweak my spine like leg lifts, flutter kicks, sit ups etc. Do front squats cause the same amount of compression as back squats?

[quote]rasturai wrote:
So are you saying that doing a sit up and then rotating is not good for the discs Bonechiro?

What do you think about Weighted Decline Sit-ups?[/quote]

Hey Rast, what’s up? Been awhile.

In my opinion, I always tell people to avoid compression when it’s coupled with torsion. Separately they are fine, and you can handle it.

But when you press and twist, some of fibers on the outside of the disc can get weakened and tear more easily. If someone has back pain and a history of doing ab crunches with twisting, I’m not surprised because the disc is innervated greatly.

While some other medical professionals might disagree, and that’s cool, I just avoid the exercise all together. Between rollouts, planks, and others, there’s no need to do twisting movements for ab training unless you’re doing some lame old Denise Austin workout video :slight_smile:

I’m a student at NDSU studying dietetics currently, but i have a background in Exercise Science as well. My professor worshipped Dr. Stuart McGill. Mark Young got his masters degree under him. Anyway, the compression load isn’t huge a problem if the spine is in a neutral position.

However, during a squat repitition, there is a point near the bottom right around parallel depending on the stance and person, where the coccyx “tucks” under- whereby we lose our neutral spine and the lower back screams uncle. Dr. McGill works with power lifting athletes using their own biomechanics to find their best squatting stance for preventing the dreaded “tuck”. You can all do a bodyweight squat in the mirror and notice how the point at which you tuck is affected by your stance and flexibility. I personally have been squatting heavy for 6 years. I am lucky to have extremely advanced ankle mobility and hip flexibility so I do not tuck at parallel. Each individual needs to find their best squatting stance. Typically, it’s found by “ducking” out the toes and widening the stance past shoulder width.

Trial and error will leave you with the best stance for injury prevention, and strength. Most likely if you are in your strongest position which also tends to be where you are activating the most muscle fibers leading to more hypertrophy and increased hormonal differences. Find your best stance and get bigger while protecting the only spine God gave you.

bisonbuilder55 I took a look at this in my mirror…my spine is neutreal but my ass does a bit of a tuck…does this matter? I mean I’ve squatted 405 for 10+ reps before and well my back has never hurt me. At the same time I do have a good build for squatting…what’s your take on this I am young only 20 years old and it would be a tragedy for something to happen.

Also do you have any exercises to increase ankle mobility?

[quote]Bonechiro wrote:
rasturai wrote:
So are you saying that doing a sit up and then rotating is not good for the discs Bonechiro?

What do you think about Weighted Decline Sit-ups?

Hey Rast, what’s up? Been awhile.

In my opinion, I always tell people to avoid compression when it’s coupled with torsion. Separately they are fine, and you can handle it.

But when you press and twist, some of fibers on the outside of the disc can get weakened and tear more easily. If someone has back pain and a history of doing ab crunches with twisting, I’m not surprised because the disc is innervated greatly.

While some other medical professionals might disagree, and that’s cool, I just avoid the exercise all together. Between rollouts, planks, and others, there’s no need to do twisting movements for ab training unless you’re doing some lame old Denise Austin workout video :)[/quote]

I know man! how you been? I hope your still hitting the gym hard!

Yeah I was wondering cause in boxing class we do some russian twists…it’s just a quick ab circut after doing technical work, pads, bag work, etc etc. But I just don’t see the different between doing soemthing like that and violently throwing a punching twisting and flexing the trunk?

Thanks for the response, I think I will keep the decline sit-ups out and stick with the hanging leg lifts and ab rollouts :slight_smile: lol

[quote]rasturai wrote:

I know man! how you been? I hope your still hitting the gym hard!

Yeah I was wondering cause in boxing class we do some russian twists…it’s just a quick ab circut after doing technical work, pads, bag work, etc etc. But I just don’t see the different between doing soemthing like that and violently throwing a punching twisting and flexing the trunk?

Thanks for the response, I think I will keep the decline sit-ups out and stick with the hanging leg lifts and ab rollouts :slight_smile: lol
[/quote]

Things are going well here, Bud. I’m currently doing a version of 5/3/1 I tweaked a bit upon Cephalic’s advice. It’s short, intense, and alot of fun. I got my weight up to 170 and my squat is still lagging, but the deads and bench are going well. My goals for them are 300/400 receptively.

That’s a good question about the boxing punch, and honestly, I don’t have a concrete answer. A lot of sports have bending and twisting combined, and there’s really no way around it. Golf, throwing sports, etc.

If I was to really take a stab at it, I’d say that in the sports world and when on your feet, you can move your hips and lower body more, allowing for the whole extremity and back to work together. That would at least take some of the load and force off of the spine. Our bodies are designed to be dynamic like that for quick moves. However, I think crunches are different because it’s done separate and continuously without rest. Some people do up to 100 crunches, that’s alot of culmination.

Maybe you though that many twisted punches in a session, but maybe not too :slight_smile:

And as far as your back rounding on your squat… Be careful, but if it doesn’t bother you too much I wouldn’t stress about it. You’ll know if you’re doing it wrong because your LB will be wicked sore. Just do your stretches afterwards, and maybe get adjusted if you’re into that.

Heyy I am also doing 5/3/1 right now…mostly for strength and it’s not too taxing on me so I can be strong in fighting classes.
Keep hittin it man, you’ll get there!

It is a difficult question to answer and perhaps it’s that same repetive motion as well…I’m not very worried about it, was just curious for discussion.

Yeah for the squat…my lower back is never sore from it, maybe from front squats yeah…but that’s completely different. I’ve done tons of squats up to 4x a week and back has never been an issue it’s more glutes/hamstrings/quads that are sore. Deadlifts obviously make the back sore…but yeah I’m not too worried it’s been a couple years I’ve been squatting like this with oly shoes, with chucks, with regular running shoes. I have never had a problem…the only time I had a problem was there was too much inflammation in my back or leg, which caused one leg to be shorter giving me knee pain. But that was back when i never backed off from training no matter how shitty I felt, no matter what hurt I worked through everything.

I’d like to this I’m a bit more wise to my approach now but I cannot argue with results I got from that mentality.
I know when to back off now though…as in for tonight I was supposed to bench press on 5/3/1 but I was simply too tired and knew if I went in it would not be good. So I didn’t, no regrets nothing…cause I know me getting well rested I will have a much more productive workout and set pr’s in either weight or reps. I rather do that then just go through the motions.