How to Effectively Train Your Core Without Doing Any Crunches!

Week 1: Pallof Press

What if we told you that you could train your core effectively without doing any crunches?  Better yet, what if we showed you?  Welcome to our 5-week series, where we will showcase a new safe and effective core exercise every week, including the Pallof Press, Plank Variations, Plank Variations with ValSlides, Body Saw, and Bird Dog.

how to effectively train your core without doing any crunches
There’s more to core work than just crunches!

Variations of crunches, or sit-ups as you may refer to them, are slowly becoming a thing of the past. While they still have their place in some training programs, many trainers are beginning to steer their clients away from traditional core work. We are learning as an industry that these traditional core exercises may do more damage than good.

how to effectively train your core without doing any crcunhes, no more crunches
No more crunches!  We have some better alternatives for you…

At DeHenzel Training Systems, we are finding that there are more effective and safe core exercises to perform than an endless amount of crunches. Although crunches may have been part of our client training programs in the past, we are now moving away from traditional core work and focusing on exercises that are friendlier to the body, particularly the lower back.

plank progression side plank
Side planks and other plank variations are safe and effective.

The average person spends 6-8 hours sitting throughout the day between commuting to work, sitting at a desk, and watching tv.  This type of sedentary lifestyle can place a huge stress on the lower back, causing the spine to be in a flexed position for most of the day.  Excessive spinal flexion can lead to lower back pain, discomfort, and weak back muscles.

spinal flexion sitting at desks
Sitting. Lots and lots of sitting.

Core work such as crunches or sit-ups, create more flexion on the lower back.  Repetitive flexion can cause potential lower back structural and muscular issues down the line.  Since the back spends most of it’s time being in this position throughout the day, it’s important to be careful of additional flexion to the spine.  In other words, the less spinal flexion, the better.

Dr. Stuart McGill is an expert in the field spine biomechanics and an industry leader who we follow. Check out this great video where Dr. McGill explains how sit-ups are not the most optimal way to train the core and his suggestions for alternatives.

Week 1: Pallof Press

Our first exercise in our 5-week series on how to effectively train your core without doing any crunches, is the Pallof Press.  The Pallof Press can be done standing or kneeling with a cable or with a resistance band.  Although your arms are working in this exercise, the key is to brace your core and keep your spine in a neutral position.

How to perform the Pallof Press:

  • Start with the cable/band level with your abdominals
  • Brace your core tightly and fully extend your arms
  • Keep the cable/band level with your abdonimals
  • Repeat for 8-10 repetitions (this is a good starting place)
  • Hold for a brief second in an extended position between reps
  • Turn around and repeat on the other side

Ways to progress the Pallof Press:

  • Increase the reps
  • Increase the hold between reps
  • Increase the angle – start at your abdominal and extend up towards your shoulders
  • Increase the weight of the cable or resistance of the band

Stay tuned for next week (Week 2), where we will show you another great way to effectively train your core without any crunches!

About DeHenzel Training Systems: DeHenzel Training Systems offers In Home Personal Training services throughout Northern Virginia and Washington DC.  Aside from in home, personal training is also available at the office gym or outdoors at a local park.

Within Northern Virginia, we service Loudoun, Fairfax and Prince William Counties including: Alexandria, Annandale, Arlington, Ashburn, Burke, Centreville, Chantilly, Fairfax, Falls Church, Great Falls, Herndon, Lansdowne, Leesburg, Lorton, McLean, Oakton, Reston, Springfield, Sterling, Tyson’s Corner, Vienna and Woodbridge.

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