Over the past few months, the 30 Day Abs Challenge has been popping up in all my news feeds. It’s become a popular trend, but if you haven’t head about it, check this out to learn more.
Essentially, the Challenge asks participants to do a variety of different core exercises over the course of a month. As the month progresses, the exercises get more intense. The idea is that, by the end of the month, you will “tone up and boost your core muscles and body strength to the max.”
Here’s the deal: I love the idea of focusing on your core strength for a month. Goal setting is a rewarding practice when it comes to strength and wellness, and I love a system that allows participants to track progress along the way. I tip my hat to you, 30dayfitnesschallenges.com.
Here’s the other deal: I don’t love this challenge where spine mobility is concerned. Will you feel like your abs are stronger than day 1 at the end of this challenge? Probably. Will you feel and look more toned? Maybe. But, as a Pilates instructor (and someone who was taught biomechanical methods of movement), I’m wondering why some of us in the fitness industry are still promoting exercises such as crunches and leg raises to a public with less spine mobility than ever. Sit ups and crunches — exercises with loaded flexion or rounding of the spin — decrease mobility of the spine up to 10%. Such exercises do not work deep core muscles which help to stabilize the spine.
Since most of us sit hunched over at a desk all day, doing exercises like sit ups or crunches can be counterproductive. Think about it — the spine is already in that “crunched” position as we work all day. High repetitions of sit ups and crunches, like in the 30 Day Abs Challenge, can leave you feeling even more stiff and hunched over. Sure, you may notice the outline of your six-pack muscles by the end of the month, but you may also experience worsened posture and overall support in your body.
For a strong, more supple spine and a stronger core, look for exercises with more dynamic movements. Variety is the spice of life, after all, and the same is true for postural support. Look out for Bust A Move on my Instagram for dynamic core exercises that (sure) might give you a six-pack, but they’ll also keep that spine looking good, too.