#3. Timed Plank
The surge of spinal biomechanics heralded by Stuart McGill seems to have announced the death of the traditional crunch as the primary mean for getting six-packs.
The crunch, which in reality produced little to no results, suddenly became as obsolete as a landline phone. The plank entered the stage of abs exercises as the saviour of our lower back with the ability to provide you the same, if not better, results as any old crunch.
Although the plank started with noble intentions, it turned out that it was just another smoke and mirror show. That’s not to say that the plank doesn’t have its own good sides. For instance, it does minimize the stress brought on to the spine with crunches. Yet, it also lacks consistency in core training.
One of the best aspects of the plank is that almost anybody can do it with little to no problems. All it takes it to put your elbows to the ground, straighten your back, and hold the position for several minutes. This should deliver a solid core, without the pain in your lower back and the risk of injury.
Well, at least it’s supposed to deliver. The problem of the traditional plank is that it doesn’t offer deep core activation on the long run.
This is due to the fact that the difficulty of the traditional plank is increased by extending the time of the hold, or by using greater external load. However, this can make the exercise damaging for your body, causing postural dysfunction and ligament trauma, because the core isn’t supposed to remain tensed in isolation for an extended period.
Alternative Exercise: RKC (Russian Kettlebell Challenge) Plank
The more effective alternative is the RKC Plank, which much more challenging move. Since it requires greater effort and is more dynamic than the traditional plank, this variation can be used both as a warm-up exercise or a metabolic finisher.
In the RKC plank, your arms are placed slightly forward than in the traditional plank, with the elbows lying more narrowly on the floor. Interlace the fingers and lift yourself to a position, with your feet opened at shoulder width.
Once in position start contracting the glutes and quads. Hold until your whole body starts to shake.
#4. GHD Ball Toss
Although this exercise is one of the greatest fads, it might be one of the most riskiest exercises for your spine and overall form.
It hit the mainstream with the CrossFit games, which had huge international viewership. And although the people responsible for CrossFit did at one time acknowledged that this even can be potentially dangerous even for the more experienced athletes, they’ve never removed it from their programming, adding to its popularity.
The truth is that this exercise is so dangerous that it has debilitating results on your body and should be avoided at all costs.
Alternative Exercise: Overhead Med-Ball Slam
The alternative to this exercise is fairly simple and called the overhead med-ball slam.
While the overhead med-ball slam utilizes the same movements and dynamics as the GHD ball toss, it also greatly stimulates abdominal activation and at the same time it maintains the link of the core with the upper body.
As this exercise relies on functional ranges from your spine and hips, you also reduce the risk of injuries to your lower back and pelvis.
This also allows an increased intra-abdominal pressure from the core musculature, which will help you with the other compound movements.