CB CB Athletic Consulting, Inc. Training Report
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ISSUE #113

In the Media

Visit Part 1 of the "Get a Beach Ready Body" article online at Mensfitness.com: .

The June/July issue contains Parts 2 & 3 of this workout, as well as my monthly column called Textbook Muscle. In this issue of my column called Textbook Muscle, I discuss different ways to structure supersets in your workout and then I tell you which approach is best (hint: these supersets are the basis of the Turbulence Training routines).


"Thank you very much. Between your program and using some of Alwyn Cosgrove's material, I'm feeling very good. Now it'll take a few more years before my sons can beat me in a race. Thanks for all your help." - John C., user of the new Get Lean! manual from www.workoutmanuals.com.

We aren't going to sugarcoat it. If you want results, you need one of the manuals from workoutmanuals.com. If you've been following your ab routine for 3 months with no luck and no "6-pack" in sight, then don't expect to be any further ahead after another month of the same workout. Your program won't magically start to work tomorrow.

So with the importance of the summer "6-pack" and beach body in mind, CB Athletics is dedicating the next 2 newsletters to destroying ab training myths and showing you a better way to train.

There is a better and safer way to build a six-pack, and it doesn't rely on an endless number of crunches. In fact, it doesn't rely on a whole lot of direct ab work at all. The manuals show you how you can give up crunches tomorrow and still develop the physique you have always wanted. Don't believe me that crunches aren't a necessity? Then listen to ACE Personal Trainer of the Year (2003) Stephen Holt tell it like it is on ab training…

After Part II of the core training interview, we'll have a two-part interview with Bill Hartman on shoulder rehabilitation and injury prevention. Keep an eye out for Bill's name…you'll be seeing a lot more of him in the fitness magazines and as the author of the best fitness articles in your favorite golf magazines.

1 - Core Training: The most overused, overrated exercise ever!

Stephen Holt was the winner of the American Council on Exercise's 2003 Personal Trainer of the Year award and the 1999 AllExperts.com Expert of the Year. He's also a three-time finalist for NSCA Personal Trainer of the Year and 7-time nominee for IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year. He has many websites, with his main site being StephenHoltFitness.com. You can learn more about his "3-4-5" system of training and his new core training book on that site.

CB: Stephen, what are the most common misconceptions about training the abs and low back?

The abs and low back are the least understood area of the body in the fitness industry and in the general public. There're so many, but three myths stand out:

  1. Ab and low back exercises will magically melt away the fat in those areas.
  2. You have to lie down to work your abs.
  3. Spinal flexion exercises like crunches are vital for everyone to do all the time.

Trainers and general exercisers are amazed to find out that very few of my clients ever do crunches. "The Crunch" is probably the most overused, overrated exercise ever. As Stuart McGill points out in Low Back Disorders (which you've covered so well in recent issues of your newsletter) crunches are the exact same motion of your spine that most often leads to disc herniation. People would look at crunches completely differently if instead of saying "Let's do 100 crunches" we said "Let's get you 100 reps closer to a disc herniation."

Besides, we spend most of our waking hours in an upright position. Spinal flexion from the upright position comes from gravity, not a concentric contraction of your abs. So our abs never perform spinal flexion from neutral, so why do we spend so much time exercising them that way?

We need to spend more time training your abs to stabilize your pelvis against the internal forces from other pelvic muscles (especially your hamstrings, quads, and lats).

CB: Are Stability balls the answer to core training?

Oh, no. Stability balls certainly do _something_ productive and, therefore, have a legitimate place in Core Training.

Instability naturally engages what's sometimes called the Lumbar Protective Mechanism. In an unstable environment (on a Swiss ball, balance board, Reebok Core Board, etc.), your core muscles naturally engage to try to protect your spine.

The shortcoming of stability ball crunches, however, is that you're still lying down and not truly working from your feet up through your spine the way you have to in the Real World outside of the weight room.

Keep in mind your core muscles control the relationship between your rib cage and your pelvis. Any implement or apparatus - such as the floor, a machine, or even a Swiss ball - that in any way limits the movement of your rib cage or your pelvis will always limit the work your abs have to do.

CB: In "The Secrets of Female Strength & Conditioning" (available on your site, womansportstraining.com and at grrlAthlete.com) you state, "Core training is teaching your trunk muscles to work as a unit to turn your torso into a virtually solid cylinder". Can you expand on that for readers unfamiliar with core training?

Simply put, one of the functions of your core is to transfer forces from your lower body through your upper body, and from your upper body through your lower body. The only way you can do this efficiently is with a core that has no "power leaks."

CB: Can you explain the interaction between your core, your pelvis, and postural/back problems?

Gary Gray calls the low back, "the crossroads of the body." As I mentioned, your core connects your lower body to your upper body, but more specifically it connects your left leg to your right arm and your right leg to your left arm because of the way your lats are connected to your opposite glutes.

When the muscles of your core are imbalance, by definition, your pelvis is rotated forward (typically) or backward, twisted with either your left or right hip slightly in front of the other, or (but usually "and") tilted to the left or right.

Except for trauma, most mechanical low back pain comes from core dysfunction. Not only can a weak core lead to back pain, but it can also be connected to pain in other areas of your body like your knee and shoulders.

If your core muscles cannot properly stabilize your pelvis, other muscles like your hamstrings, quads, lats, or QL (quadratus lumborum) will overwork trying to stabilize your pelvis. That's one of the reasons many people have chronic tightness in these muscles.

Stretching alone won't solve this problem. As I wrote in my chapters, you must stretch these chronically tight muscles AND take care of the reason for their chronic tightness - a weak core that's not doing its share of pelvic stabilization.

CB: You also wrote a chapter on core training for the www.grrlAthlete.com fat loss book ShapeShift. In your chapter, you mention the connection between flexibility, core training and posture. Can you expand on that?

This is the perfect follow-up to the previous question and answer. Very clever!

Tightness and weakness go together. One muscle becomes tight because the weakness of an "opposite" muscle allows it.

I put "opposite" in quotes because you'll get in trouble thinking of muscles coming in neat little antagonistic pairs like most textbooks tell us. A prime example is that lats and abs aren't usually thought of as antagonists, yet your lats anteriorly tilt your pelvis and your abs posteriorly tilt it. Your lats and hamstrings are antagonistic in the same way.

Posture starts with your pelvis. Everything else falls in line (sorry for the pun) from there. And the position of your pelvis depends on the relative tightness and weakness of the muscles attached to your pelvis.

Again, find out exactly what's tight. Stretch it. Then strengthen your core muscles and teach them to do their job better.

Stephen Holt, BSE, CSCS, PES "the top dog of the fitness industry" - eFitness.com StephenHoltFitness.com

CB: Thank you Stephen. Part II of the interview will focus on the truth about getting a "6-pack", including the necessity of all those ab exercises on the floor that dominate many ab training programs.

Read the remainder of the interview at: grrlathlete.com, Issue 13

The information on cbathletics.com is for education purposes only. It is not medical advice and is not intended to replace the advice or attention of health-care professionals. Consult your physician before beginning or making changes in your diet or exercise program, for diagnosis and treatment of illness and injuries, and for advice regarding medications.

CB Athletic Consulting Inc.

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