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To Crunch or Not to Crunch: An Evidence-Based Examination of Spinal Flexion Exercises, Their Potential Risks, and Their Applicability to Program Design

Contreras, Bret MA, CSCS1; Schoenfeld, Brad MSc, CSCS2

Strength & Conditioning Journal: August 2011 - Volume 33 - Issue 4 - pp 8-18
doi: 10.1519/SSC.0b013e3182259d05
Article
In the Press

THE CRUNCH AND ITS MANY VARIATIONS HAVE LONG BEEN CONSIDERED A STAPLE EXERCISE IN FITNESS PROGRAMS. HOWEVER, RECENTLY, SOME FITNESS PROFESSIONALS HAVE QUESTIONED THE WISDOM OF PERFORMING FLEXION-BASED SPINAL EXERCISES, SUCH AS THE CRUNCH. CONCERNS ARE USUALLY PREDICATED ON THE BELIEF THAT THE SPINE HAS A FINITE NUMBER OF BENDING CYCLES AND THAT EXCEEDING THIS LIMIT WILL HASTEN THE ONSET OF VERTEBRAL DEGENERATION. THIS ARTICLE WILL SEEK TO REVIEW THE RESEARCH PERTAINING TO THE RISKS OF PERFORMING DYNAMIC SPINAL FLEXION EXERCISES AND WILL DISCUSS THE APPLICATION OF THESE FINDINGS TO EXERCISE PERFORMANCE.

1The University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand; and 2Global Fitness Services, Scarsdale, New York

Bret Contreras currently pursuing his PhD at AUT University.

Brad Schoenfeld the owner/director of Global Fitness Services.

© 2011 National Strength and Conditioning Association