Well, what do you think?
Sweat … heat … smell ?
Before I tell you what they have in common after over 23 years performing them and helping hundreds of people perform it better, let me share with you a story of a member of a gym I used to own for seven years. Let’s call him Bruce.
Bruce had been a loyal member for close to 30 years. He was an intimidating but a very likable, straight-to-the-point, anti-status quo, intolerant to ‘bs’ sort-of-a-guy.
My kind of guy – I liked him.
Now, I love observing behaviour and it didn’t take me long to see the repetitive nature and predictability of his workouts, which he religiously performed three times a week. He always did his abdominal sit-ups at the end of his workout and I noticed he did his two favourite exercises. They were:
- Roman-chair sit-ups (incline crunches off an incline bench)
- Crunches (off the floor)
One day, he was in the middle of his workout when he got a phone call. I then learned that he had a new girlfriend and he thought she was quite special. It was early in his relationship but he was already being pressured in to rushing his workouts.
She wanted him to spend less time in the gym. She thought that 3 times per week for 45 minutes at a time was too much time. He told me that she was always interrupting his workout when he was doing his abdominals.
I asked him how many repetitions he did for his abdominals, and I learned that he did about 400. I asked him how long he took and he said it could be anything between 10 and 15 minutes. It was a third of his workout time!
Too much if you asked me.
I thought it was quite excessive for the goals he was trying to achieve. I asked him to perform a number of repetitions. He was doing them but was not focusing on the technique. A lot of technique goes in to training every muscle group and the abdominal region is no different.
I asked him if he would like to learn an alternative approach. An approach that would reduce the number of repetitions to 30 which would mean he would spend less time in the gym, his new girlfriend would not be so irritated and he would spend more time with her.
He was hungry to learn my alternative approach.
Well, I told him that I did not ‘work’ my abdominals directly and don’t do anywhere near the number of repetitions he did but I had a ‘6-pack’ and he didn’t.
If I was preparing for a body-building contest, I would maybe work them directly at least once per week in the last month leading up to the contest. Otherwise, they (the abs) get are indirectly worked every time I lift weights. It is the most worked muscle group in my body because of the way I approach every rep of every set of every exercise.
I don’t do anything near the number of repetitions that he was doing. 400 was excessive.
So, I told him to reduce the types of exercises he performed from 2 to 1. Let’s get you to remove the roman chair sit-ups”, I said. Let’s simplify things.
He was a little apprehensive but he accepted the change if it meant spending less time in the gym and because of his desire to spend more time with his new love was exemplary. I admired him for this.
I told him it wasn’t how much you do, it’s how you do it. An important key is the breathing technique during each repetition, something he was not aware of and was not practising.
My goal was to show him how he could do 30 ‘good’ sit-ups and not 400 and ‘feel’ the difference. He performed it as I directed and could not believe the intense feeling he was feeling only after ten repetitions. He was convinced.
He couldn’t believe that he learned a more efficient, more effective way to work his abdominals after over 30 years of training them a certain way. That is why ‘practise does not make perfect as a person could be practising something all his life but practising it WRONG.
Instead, PERFECT PRACTISE MAKES PERFECT!
Brings me to the one similarity that sit-ups have in common with sex: that it is QUALITY rather than QUANTITY that matters.
Just like Bruce, every person I have ever trained have been made aware of how to ‘work their abs’ with quality in mind. They all have felt the difference and have spent less time doing it and unnecessary repetitions. Less time, better results. A winning formula!
Here are a few pointers for you when doing sit-ups:
- Keep it simple.
- Breathing correctly to maximize benefit is essential (breathe out at the point of contraction)
- Lay on a flat surface (preferably on the floor) with your legs up and ankles crossed, with your hands behind your head.
- Breathe out as you lift your head towards your knees
- Go as far as you can, keeping your tummy tight (focusing on your exhale on the upward phase and inhaling as you return to the starting position).
- Repeat 30 times.
It is very important that you don’t pull on your head as you come up, and you should keep your shoulders and back relaxed. Your hands are meant to be behind your head for support only.
An Efficient, Effective and Safer way towards a flatter, tighter, stronger mid-section. What more do you need!
Go ahead and make this change. See the difference. One crunch – one rep at a time with quality, not quantity in mind. And remember, practise does not make perfect. Perfect practise makes perfect.
Just like sex.
Until next time,