My Straight-leg Situp experiment

November 5, 2009

As I haven’t started up with the new job officially yet, my content has been lacking since its driven largely by what the people I train teach me. Fortunately I thought I’d bring up a little somethin-somethin from my own workouts and see if any discussion ensues….

Back pain. Lumbar spine. Core stability. Even those outside the fitness industry have started to hear these terms mentioned together more and more. Crunches are out and core stability exercises are in. Almost. Straight-leg situps are being talked about more and more by fitness professionals, but the difference between these and regular ol’ crunches is where the movement is occuring. In crunches, the individual’s spine is flexing whereas in straight-leg varieties the goal is to get movement at the hips while the spine is thought of as a steel rod and shouldn’t move. I’ve played around with these too as I try to be aware of what those who are smarter than me are doing.

Here’s what I’ve run into though: I’ve been doing this core stability stuff for around the last couple years in my own training, and its made a huge difference. But when I try the straight-leg situps, I can’t play by the rules — my spine starts flexing, momentum would be needed, etc. My posture is also in some degree of anterior pelvic tilt. Still. So after all this core stability training, my body/posture still isn’t exactly where I want it to be. Now because of the core training I’ve done and this pelvic tilt issue, my reflection has me pretty happy with my ab strength, pretty happy with my low back strength, and getting happier with my hip mobility, BUH-UT my external obliques seem to have not come along as much as I want. Bottom line: normal straight leg situps for me? Not just yet. The problem is now I have to figure out how to get from where I am now to there, and maybe this is pretty secretive since I haven’t been able to find it in articles on the internet or even in products I’ve paid for.

Anyways, last phase I tried negative straight-leg situps. They hurt like hell when I did them, but after 4 weeks, did I notice much of an effect? Not really. Does this mean they don’t work? No, but since I break training up into 3 or 4 week blocks, maybe there is a better way out there which would allow me to follow a progression which is more timely.

Enter my current experiment: Cable-straight leg situps. Basically set up a straight-bar handle at the top of a cable machine and have at it. The point being to use weight to oppose your bodyweight ultimately making the effect of gravity less. Less gravity = an easier version. The goal will be to reduce weight each week to some degree. The other reason I like this version as a solution besides the fact that I’m performing the whole movement is that I can measure progress a lot easier since I can see how much weight I’m using each week. With the bodyweight negative SL situps, I couldn’t measure if I was going lower each week so determining progress would’ve been pretty subjective. In addition, it felt easier to maintain proper form with the cable version.

So thats my current experiment with the straight-leg situps. If you’ve found something else that works well to build these up, I’d love to hear these other perspectives.


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