If you clicked on this link to learn about six pack abs, you came to the wrong site. Try Muscle and Fiction magazine. I don't care how many crunches Britney Spears does each day, we all know washboard abs are 100% diet anyway. This article IS about core stability. Despite popular ab training regimens, your abdominals function to resist movement and stabilize the spine, more than aiding movement and mobilizing the spine. Your spine is very mobile and because of this mobility, its vulnerable to fractures and disc pathologies. Your core, which includes the muscles of your abdominals, obliques and lower back, are your body's natural weight belt, for stabilizing the spine under various loads and stressors during movement. They serve to resist flexion and extension of the lumbar spine, front to back, side to side.
We all have experienced, or know someone, who has thrown their back out. Often it occurred doing something as innocent as bending over to pick up something light, tying a shoe lace, etc. Occasionally, it was something more aggressive like moving a heavy object, and not "using your legs." In both situations, your spine was in a flexed position, a forward bend. The majority of disc herniations are posteriorly displaced, and occur in this hunched over position. Common ab exercises like sit ups and crunches reinforce this hunched position, often putting undue stress on the spine in this flexed position. Over time, repeated flexion of the spine may ultimately lead to a spinal injury. Watch someone's ab routine next time you are at the gym and notice the excessive strain and force they seem to be putting on their spine from their neck down to their lower back. Are they working their spine or their abs?? With exception of sitting up out of bed in the morning, twice if you take a nap, sit ups provide no real world functional use. Training the muscles of the core to resist flexion, will stabilize the spine and protect your discs from injury. Exercises like planks, dead lifts, and over head pressing, load the spine, engaging your core to resist extension and flexion of the lumbar spine. Add some of the exercises I have in my Core Stabilization section for greater challenge, spine health, stronger abs, and with a proper diet, "six pack abs." With smarter core training, you too can have cannonball strength abdominals! Don't take my word for it, read famed spine specialist, Stuart McGill's take on spinal health and core training.