For now, over to this week’s TT Member Fitness QnA.
Question: I bought some of your body weight workouts a while back and have been following your blog posts and newsletters ever since. My question is regarding your Abs DVD and Ab workouts in general.
I recently stopped doing an “ab circuit” that included hanging knee raises, hanging straight leg raises, and others in which you actually bring your feet to the bar while hanging. These weren’t to be done all at once, and there were other exercises thrown in, but the point it is that I stopped because I got really bad lower back pain after a few days. I’m assuming that my form after a few reps sucked and that this caused much of the problem.
Thanks for your help and my apologies for the lengthy email. – Jimmy
Hey Jimmy, Those are advanced exercises, and they are described in the later – advanced chapters – of Dr. McGill’s book as a next level move. So the back pain is probably a combination of
a) overzealous form
b) not being ready for them
I recommend a return to the basics. In fact, I personally use the basics
These can be done so frequently because they are a low-intensity, endurance movement, used to protect the back. I suggest you start with that. Once you can do a plank for 2 minutes straight with good form, then we can start moving on to Stability ball planks, jackknives, etc.
Also, since I’m sure your goal is nice abs, we have to look at what the best use of your time is…more ab training or metabolic resistance training and interval training? Probably the latter…
By the way, here’s a video of Dr. Stuart McGill, the ab and low-back expert, explaining why crunches and situps are bad for your low back. Plus, the video demonstrates…
The Exercise of the Week – “The Stability Ball Stir-the-Pot”:
Question: I’ve noticed a lot of recommendations to incorporate Bird Dogs into workouts lately. I’ve also read that if Bird Dogs feel easy, then you aren’t doing them right. Well, they seem easy to me. Are there any common errors in technique or anything I should keep in mind when I do them to make sure I am doing them correctly and effectively? I still am not up to the 2 minute plank with perfect form, so it is not that my core strength is super good. – “G-Force”
Answer: I train my clients to work up to 6 reps with a 10 second hold at the top. Let’s be honest though, Bird Dogs will never feel like deadlifting 315 pounds. But they aren’t meant to be. Just remember the purpose is to isolate small muscles in the low back, and as a side benefit, increase ab endurance and help upper back mobility.
These are a great exercise to be included in your warm-up, especially if you are doing the “Old-Man Warm-up” like me.
Finally, because of today’s “Ab-focused” qna, I’ve decided to extend the TT Abs “Independence from Belly Fat” DVD sale for one more day. You can save $200 on the TT Abs DVDs until tonight:
Question: I’m looking at purchasing a set of resistance bands but the choice is a bit overwhelming. I see anywhere from 5lb of resistance right up to about 80lbs and even more. What bands would you recommend? – Peter
Answer from TT Member, MGlodfelter:
I use the Bodylastics. They really keep tension on the muscle at all times. I love using them for my abs and obliques. I ordered the Terrell Owens package.
Answer from me:
You just need a $10 band for those exercises, and you can get a medium tension band with handles from Walmart. Also, TT Member “Duckman” mentioned that you can use physiotherapy bands that you can get at your local pharmacy.
Finally…a quick Terrell Owens story for you, since MGlodfelter mentioned that he ordered the TO Bodylastics package…(Owens is an NFL football player, for those of you who don’t know him). Anyways, when I was at the Superbowl in 2010 (Saints-Colts), I went to a restaurant in the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami.
When we left the restaurant and rode the elevator down to the lobby, it opened, and there was Terrell Owens. He politely held the door for us, smiled, let us out, and then carried on his way. Good enough reason to join MGlodfelter from the TT Member’s site in endorsing his brand of the Bodylastics resistance bands.
Finally, I just want to mention that Certified Turbulence Trainer, Mike Whitfield, from Georgia, posted a 3-part article on Metabolic Finishers for your fat burning workouts on my blog, starting here:
And if you’re interested in more information on the TT Certification and my 1 Million Transformation Mission, I created this 30-minute video for you (me, in person, presenting – not a powerpoint slideshow):
As a TT Trainer, you’ll get to come to the TT Trainer Summit in San Diego for at no charge.
Have a great weekend,
Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, MS
Certified Turbulence Trainer