Classic sit ups not bio-mechanicly relevent?

In the sit up, the spine flexes forwards, and we are told that this is not bio-mechanicly relevent to sprinting. (In sprinting - the spine moves away from high levels of lordosis, back to lower levels of lordosis, when rear foot comes of the ground - but never goes in to the amount of flexion seen in sit ups, chinnies, crunches etc…)

So I am very curious, as to whether or not to include the bio-mechanicly ‘irrelevent’ exercises.

There’s just one problem and stumbling block to making a choice.

Florence Griffifth Joyner, did about 3000 sit ups at night, every night.

Alan Wells, did about 6 sets of 100 reps of ‘chinnies’.

Marion Jones regularly did 1000 sit ups / crunches every day.

Her former husband, Tim Montgommery, started doing the same.

Linford Christie often finished his Gym sessions with high numbers of crunches and partial sit ups.

As did Shawn Crawford…

Carl Lewis was no gym rat, but even he made sure to include the typical 4 x 30 reps or so, of medicine ball sit ups, with his team mates…

And so… If these sit ups, crunches, chinnies etc, that hunch the spine,… are so ‘irrelevent’, then why have so many of the best sprinters included them?

Was it because they were slightly ‘un-educated’ about those exercises, compared to some of todays peeps?

Or is it because some of todays peeps, have missed the boat on those exercises?

Some peeps can-not produce high numbers in those exercises (not thru lack of ab strength) but psoas majors tightening on the spine and becoming painfull. We’ve been told time and again to not tighten the psoas, and it moves in to other issues.

But are all the fancy alternative abdominal exercises any better? E;g squat thrusts, push ups, front bridge planks, superman push ups, pistol squats, turkish get-ups, swiss-ball, and on and on.

Further-more, Charles Poliquin suggests that for advanced - well co-ordinated athletes, they will reach a plateu (spelling?) in abdominal strength after just 8 weeks. And stay at that level for the rest of their career. That is unless, they include heavier execises, such as squat or deadlift. He sais squats and/or deads are the only way to have further abdominal improovement.

I don’t worship everything he sais, but what he sais here, makes sense to me, based on my own experiences.

Quite often, when beginning a new abdominal exercise (could be any ol crappy exercise), I notice awesome blood pump, lactic acid build-up, tension, (and ‘taughtness’ for hours following the exercise.)
So I think, hmm, what a great exercize. But the next time I do it, there is no where near the same taughtness or fullness. This is because the body learms to recruit LESS fibers to get the same job done. A phenomenam that is the bane for spriners, who are constantly trying to improove power expression in sports.

So what can anybody tell me about these high rep ‘classic’ ab exercises that hunch the spine forwards? Are they worth doing? Ofcourse I have tried them before many times, but never really tried to do high numbers in them, because they gave me a little psoas pain, and I questioned the merit of even bothering with them. (I can easily sort out any potential psoas pain, by modifying an exercise - no worries.)

I’d like to know of peoples experiance with these exercises, in terms of high numbers. Is it worth it? Did it help you to improove your speed? Thoughts?

The purpose of doing bunch of abdominals is not to improve speed but is part to a fitness enveloppe which includes coordination/strength/flexibility/therapy orientated, etc drills, a general and non-specific, albeit individualised, work for sprinting.
I was asked the other day to give specific abdominal exercises for sprinters. Well besides sprinting, there is no specific exercises for sprinting. Keep that core work general and adaptated to the individual needs, and stay away from the advices of that kind : do 5000 sit ups or don’t do any sit ups. The truth lies in the middle i guess, but there’s no golden number of reps. Do what is necessary. OK, what is necessary? What can be done or cannot be done otherwise. Adaptated for sprinting : do whatever keeps you healthy, faster and durable. Go to the track and do what should be done according to the work previously done, according to what you are observing and what is available on that very day, and according to what are your plans geared to (work should be part of a progressive template).

Doing 3000 sit-ups, if done continuously, and at the constant rate of 3 sec./rep, would take about 2 1/2 hors.

Suuuuuuuure, I believe that.


What about 1000 first thing in the morning, 1000 post workout, 1000 before bed. You could probably do a 1000 in 15-30mins depends on your fitness levels. I’m sure these athletes work themselves up to 3000 per day because doing that many situps would cause some serious over use injuries in the beginning stages.

You could but why bother?

And since when did all exercises done by athletes have to be biomechanically relevant?

3000 sit ups per day seems like one big stinking waste of time. Even 1000 seems like way too many.

Why? PJ mention earlier it’s just general fitness work, weather you do situps, v ups, or z ups who cares.

Its very excessive training. Should I do 1000 bench press reps or 1000 squats? No.

I know muscle groups need to be worked differently.

Why not do some weighted sit ups, decline sit ups or other various ab exercises? Sit ups are a good exercise, but not the end all be all.

Spend 2 1/2 hours every day doing sit ups?

i guess, hey, if its working for her, then go ahead. But I have no idea why anyone would reccommend doing that amount of sit ups. As the OP was getting at.

Did you read my post!!! I don’t care what you do for abs, just do them. I do think 200-300reps daily should be done.

weighted sit-ups, although used extensively with bodybuilding and lifting sports should not be a part of a sprinters program. Train them generally from many angles, pretty much everything PJ said.

Why? Is there some risk involved?

I don’t see a problem in doing a couple sets of weighted situps or other weighted ab movements.

Here is what charlie said (from T-nation):
You have to think about the role of the muscle in the particular activity. The role of the abdominals is as a support structure where power is less important and endurance is much more important. Additionally, the overall drain on the limited supply of energy the body has to deal with is better served in this way.

Red muscle fiber is much more energy efficient. Now, I don’t presume to speak for bodybuilders since appearance is all that matters in that arena. But in sport, you’d be better served to reconvert those fibers toward a natural state rather than trying to train them as white fiber. What are we talking about here? High reps! These reps can be done daily as well, because when you do low intensity work you don’t have the 48 hour limitation that you would have on high intensity work.

My athletes don’t do hundreds of repetitions, they do thousands! We try to hit all of the muscles. This brings up another issue. In high performance sport the hip rotates toward the center line, meaning that there are rotational forces involved in the support structures as well. This requires all of the muscles in the abdominal complex to work.

Now, if you were doing high power (low-rep) work with the abdominals, then you could only work them straight ahead, as you would in conventional crunch-type movements or some variation thereof. This means that a large number of the muscles (obliques) would only be exercised through the crossover effect, meaning they wouldn’t be worked directly. They’d only receive some indirect benefits from the work of the muscles in the front.

If, however, you try to use power to develop these other muscles involved in rotational support you’d surely be injured.

Obviously, it’s a complex issue, and the type of training you do varies from sport to sport

I know Dan Pfaff has success with a Weighted Russian Twist series. I think the athlete would have more success including both methods weighted/unweighted instead of 2000 reps of crunches.

In terms of specificity, doing weighted crunches/situps/twists/leglifts would be more specific in terms of forces and time (10sec 100m to 50?sec 400m). And I don’t know anyone who has ever injured themselves doing a weighted twist.

My main problem with the ‘thousands’ thing is the time involved 30min/1000. And if TNT’s calculation of 2.5 hours is even twice too much, then that’s still over an hour for a muscle group that is “not biomechanically relevant to sprinting”. Surely that amount of time could be better spent training something that IS biomechanically relevant.

Regarding the time concern, have you purchased any videos here? In them you will find that the ab workouts are not simply crunches for thousands of reps. And TNT’s calculations of 3 seconds a rep is way off. The repititions were performed with multiple exercises in circuits with an up tempo space. At least a hundred a minute.

No, she would have done them at a faster tempo. When doing ultra high numbers, nobody would have the patience to do them that slow. She probably used momentum, and the psoas would have been doing a lot of the work. A lot of athletes do half between a sit up and a crunch at about 1 rep per second. Some times not going all the way up, and not going all the way down.
Don’t forget that Flo-Jo had a comparitavely short and light torso, compared to me and you.

Marion Jones crunches were often done with a light med ball in hands above chest, and using a slight arm swing, could add momentum to her crunches. And they were done at faster than 1 repetition per second, so no ‘squeeze’ at the top. But the number of reps creates a burn.

Football / soccer player, Christiano Ronaldo, regulary does 3000 sit ups a day. But I doubt he could cover the 100m in under 11 seconds electronicly. His speed is slightly over-rated, as he is quick on the ball, change of direction speed, agiliy, quick feet etc… but his straight line top-end speed would not have matched Theiry Henry’s etc.

[QUOTE=pierrejean;232637]The purpose of doing bunch of abdominals is not to improve speed but is part to a fitness enveloppe which includes coordination/strength/flexibility/therapy orientated, etc drills, a general and non-specific, albeit individualised, work for sprinting.

I never did get this ‘fitness from sit ups / ab exercises’ concept.

Surely, when it comes to fitness, a simple jogging session, or a sprint session, forwards hops, or even just multiple reps of ‘strides’ would develope the fitness envelope greater than any amount of gym type abdominal/core exercises.

And the abs get good work from running anyway. How can an exercise where you lay on your back and just curl the torso, match the fitness gained from running? Maybe I’m missing something.

Ben Johnson’s 1 mile warm-up jog, or John Regis occasionally jogging for 2 miles, probably did as much for their over all fitness, as the high rep abdominal work. I honestly don’t know how one thousand sit ups is better than one thousand running strides.
Yet so many sprinters do these abdominal exercises, so I’m curious as to why. There must be a reason, or is it really a fear that ‘if left alone’ it could lead to problems? And so they macho their way thru high numbers of circuits, cause they don’t believe the track/field work is enough?

And as for occasionally needing to train indoors, why would sit ups be needed, if you can skip / jump rope, or even mimmick the jump rope action without even needing a rope?

Sure, high rep numbers in core exercises would build fitness, but there are far less miserable exercises, and far kinder on the lower back / psoas, that can get a very good job done on the fitness tangent.

I know you are not necesarily recomending high abdominal reps sitting on the floor, you are saying that ‘you need to do what needs to be done at a given time’ etc, I agree with that. But I just think there are better options than high rep sit ups, but don’t know for deffinate.

So what’s the point of using momentum??? What is this corssfit???

In high school, my younger bother did 1234 sit-ups and still holds the school record. He needed a pass from the PE teacher because it went into the next class session. 1234 sit-ups = more than 1 hour. My calculations are not way off.

Anyone have the guts to prove me wrong??? Didn’t think so.