Do More For Your Core With Anti-Exercises

Six pack abs sure do look nice, but that doesn’t mean they are strong or provide you with the support that they are designed to. A strong and stable “core” will get you to perform better in your sport, make you more injury resistant and support you in all of your daily activities. The core encompasses much more than just the “6 pack” muscle in the front of the abdominal wall and training should reflect that. Research has definitively determined the role of our “core.” We can assure it is not to do a bunch of crunches. We train you to move well and be strong, looking good is a result of that approach.

Why Not Traditional “Core Training”?

Traditional “core training” like crunches, Russian twists, cranking on your neck doing bicycle crunches and leg raises are not exercises that we prescribe here at Core Principles. We take a different approach. Dr. Stuart Mcgill, recognized as the leading expert on the spine, states that “Evidence shows the damaging mechanism leading to (spinal disc) herniation, or prolapse, is repeated lumbar flexion.” Guess what repeated flexion lumbar flexion is, crunches and side bends. The low back prefers to be in a neutral alignment.

His research has found that movements and exercises that take the spine out of neutral transfers the loading from the muscles (which are well designed to handle these loads), to the structures of the spine such as the ligaments, discs, and joint capsules. Like a metal coat hanger bent over and over, it’s not a matter of if these structures will fail, but rather when. Dr. McGill has become famous for saying, “Wanna see a disc explode? Keep flexing at the spine.” The torso musculature was meant to transmit force, not produce it.


Science, research, and practical application has proven a need for a change. If you still have these moves in your routine, we suggest it is time to see out some alternatives. If exercises that cause the low back to move, like crunches and side-bends, tend to load the passive spinal structures instead of the core musculature, then what exercises load the musculature while sparing the spine? The answer: anti exercises. These exercises hold the spine in a neutral position, while forces (like gravity or external load) try to pull it out of neutral.

If the spine is capable of movement in 3 planes of motion- namely into flexion, extension, lateral flexion (side bending) and rotation, then a well-rounded routine of “anti-exercises” should address resisting each of those motions. Therefore we need anti-flexion, anti-extension, anti-lateral-flexion, and anti-rotation in our programming (seen above). Before we allow people to move into flexion, extension and rotation, they need to prove that they can resist and control those motions.

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