The typical way to get abs was to perform countless crunches or sit-ups. Research has shown that this is not always ideal. Stuart McGill Ph.D is a leading low back pain researcher that has studied the effect of these exercises on the low back. He has found that the constant flexing of the spine in these exercises causes repetitive trauma to the discs in the spine. His recommendation is a curl up that has been coined the McGill curl up. It looks similar to a crunch but keeps the spine in neutral and teaches the core how to function properly. It is performed as follows:
- Lie on your back on the floor with your left leg straight and flat on the floor. Your right knee should be bent and your right foot flat.
- Place your hands palms down on the floor underneath the natural arch in your lower back. (Don't flatten your back.)
- Slowly raise your head and shoulders off the floor without bending your lower back or spine, and hold this position for 7 to 8 seconds, breathing deeply the entire time. That's one repetition.
- Do all your repetitions, then switch legs so that your right leg is straight and your left is bent.
This will help you make gains while maintaining your back health.