Building Abs of Steel and a Bulletproof Back


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What if I told you that your abdominal exercise routine is about as effective at giving you 6 pack abs as I was at picking up girls in high school (hint: not very effective)? What if I also told you that your abdominal exercise routine is a ticking time bomb, with debilitating back pain hiding around the corner waiting to unmask itself at any moment? Yes, that routine that you do religiously at the end of each workout with minutes upon minutes of every type of crunch, sit-up, and side-bend known to man, is not only a giant waste of time, but it may be digging your back a premature grave.

But, then, what if I told you that there were exercises out there that not only could give you Channing Tatum abs, but could also build you a bulletproof back? Wouldn’t those exercises be nice to discover?

This article is broken up into three parts. The first describes why most of your everyday ab exercises are both ineffective and injurious. The second dives into Core Training 2.0 and describes the new abdominal routine that both research and those pushing the boundaries of athleticism have shown to be effective at strengthening your back all the while carving you a six pack of abs. Lastly, I will dive into a few examples of these new exercises with step by step instructions on how to perform them.

Ladies and gentlemen, strap on your seatbelts. Your sexy midsection is right around the corner.

Why Crunches Are Ruining Your Back

Canadian low back researcher Stuart McGill has stood as a shining beacon in the fitness and rehabilitation fields for over a decade now. His message: your back is nearly indestructible in a neutral position and an accident waiting to happen outside of a neutral position.

His decades of research and hands on experience have been spent working with two groups of people in particular: those with unbearable back pain who had been to every medical professional under the sun, as well as with Olympic medalists, MMA champions, and others who grace the pages of Sports Illustrated on a regular basis.

In both populations he found the same thing- good things happen when the person’s spine remains in neutral. In the bad back group, their pain would improve quickly. In the athletes, they were setting new personal records left and right.

Despite innumerable research papers filled with complicated statistics and biomechanics jargon, his overall explanation is relatively simple. The spine, he explains, has a finite number of movement cycles it can endure. Much like a green twig, the spine can only bend so many times before it begins to splinter and ultimately fails.

While genetics certainly play a role (they generally determine whose back is more tolerable to repeated bending, as well as who by nature chooses to bend through their back with everything they do), McGill’s research has shown what ultimately causes such things as disc herniations and unrelenting back spasms.

So if McGill’s research clearly shows that bending repeatedly through our back is a bad idea, why do we continue to do things like crunches and side bends that do just that?

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About Dr. Taylor Levick

Taylor Levick is a chiropractic physician and performance coach based out of the Daytona Beach area. Dr. Levick brings over a decade of experience in personal training to his clinical practice, where he is able to combine the methodology he was exposed to through his chiropractic education at Palmer College of Chiropractic Florida, extensive post-graduate studies and seminars, undergraduate studies in exercise physiology at the University of Florida, and devoted self-learning into a truly unique approach that benefits not just athletes, but people of all walks. In an effort to “walk the walk,” Dr. Levick is heavily invested in his own health and fitness, and regularly seeks to push the limits of his own performance. In addition to owning his own private practice, Dr. Levick personal trains clientele and is the general manager of Impact Fitness and Health, and is a part-time faculty clinician for Palmer College of Chiropractic Florida Clinic. When not working, Dr. Levick enjoys staying active and taking advantage of Central Florida’s year round nice weather.

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