Thought for the day……

Why He Makes Us Do It: Stable = Strong

“We don’t do abs,” Coach Glassman exclaimed on a recent CrossFit video clip posted on the CrossFit main site. 

What kind of fitness program doesn’t do abs?  The answer: A fitness program that is concerned with helping people to achieve functional fitness. 

What Coach Glassman meant when he made this statement is that CrossFit does not encourage exercises that work the abs in isolation from the rest of the body.  Isolating your abs and working them without being conscious of how their development fits into the bigger picture of the way in which your body works together is shortsighted at best.

CrossFit instead focuses on “midline stabilization.”  The midline, Coach Glassman explains, is the “line that trisects the spine and bisects the pelvis.” He goes on to say that “Maintaining rigidity while engaged in functional movement is the essence of midline stabilization.  This is the standing definition of core strength, of which abs and ab strength is but a portion.”

The core consists of the deeper abdominal muscles, the obliques, and the rectus abdominis.  It also includes the back.  One CrossFit trainer on the website talks about core strength as being an “issue of butt and gut.”  What this means is that a strong core or midline cannot be achieved without consideration of how the abs as well as the lats, extenders, and connective tissue reaching into the butt work together.  These connective tissues must be engaged fully or core strength is weak.  Basically, what it comes down to is stable = strong.

Core strength is not achieved through isolating movements like crunches because they focus on such a small part of the body.  They do little to help how a person’s physique works as one.  Doing crunch after crunch won’t help improve your ability to punch and kick or run and jump.  Nor will it help you lift or move more weight.  It might make your abs look pretty, but that’s really where the benefits of isolated ab work ends.

Instead, CrossFit promotes moves such as the overhead squat or the L-sit to build strength through the midline.  The overhead squat is a great exercise for this because it engages all components of a person’s physique thereby requiring a tightening of the core to ensure good form.  Those with underdeveloped midline stabilization will have difficulty holding the overhead squat and will be wobbly, particularly as they increase the load. 

The L-sit is also excellent for improving midline stabilization, but can be challenging for beginners.  The plank is a less advanced activity that allows for the midline to be strengthened and tightened so the CrossFit enthusiast can begin working their way to exercises that require more developed stabilization. 

While it may not be every CrossFitters dream to be able to hold an L-sit for a prolonged period of time, on a day to day basis, improved midline stabilization will reduce the risk of injury and pain associated with pore posture.  That’s something we can all understand.