Hanging raises and Ab dread

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    Aug 10, 2007 7:32 PM GMT
    Jessica Biel (best bod in Hollywood IMHO)'s trainer swears by em and I must say, they seem to work for keeping things flat for me. My question to those who know a bit more about it, are a few sets of hanging raises (done properly) equivalent to/or superior to numerous crunches and/or sit-ups?

    Also, why are so many men in the gym doing x amount of curls and presses but seem to only superficially do abs? Most people agree great abs are the cornerstone of a great physique yet, its the rare bird who trains his abs with the same enthusiasm as he does his pecs. WTF? Why do men hate working this body part?

    Any feedback appreciated my buff buds!
  • GQjock

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    Aug 11, 2007 12:00 AM GMT
    Not a big fan of hanging leg raises...
    They work the hip flexors more than anything else
    You'd get more bang for your buck with a reverse crunch or leg raise motion
    ....as far as guys not doing abs too much
    abs are alone in that you ain't gonna see them unless your BF is down enuf...no matter how many exercises you do
    I think thats why men stay away from them >> no quick response
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    Aug 11, 2007 1:02 AM GMT

    Probably hated because the only way to get really incredible Abs is to do a fuckin shitload of crunches or situps.

    I just don't think there is another way.

    Lets face it, we do them because we have to, but they are BORING!

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    Aug 11, 2007 2:08 AM GMT
    I don't know but it seems as far as crunches are concerned, a well-executed set is infinately superior to a thousand reps done sloppily. As far as BF, it seems like the lower mine is the more my abs "pop" though I will say I don't do nearly as much in terms of exercise (though I do) as much as I do eat cleanly. (I don't really drink either, so maybe that helps too???)
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    Aug 11, 2007 1:27 PM GMT
    I personally dread anything with weights myself. So I investigated what Janet Jackson was doing for her fitness. And I found that she uses a structure that she can transition into her daily life as a singer and dancer. Me being a gymnast and singer, I needed to do the same thing. Functional core exercises and full body exercises that force me to use muscles I couldn't imagine working out before have become my base. Hanging leg raises are good, particularly after doing anything that works the hamstrings I'm finding. Also, using the boku ball for jumps compels you to use your abs for stabilization and balance.
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    Aug 11, 2007 2:25 PM GMT
    To answer your question about getting great abs, you have to do more than just crunches or abdominal work to get them. Everyone has a 6 pack. The problem is that most of us have one or more layers of fat covering them up.

    Doing plenty of cardio or interval training is a great way to acheive your goal of having great abs. Hanging leg raises are a great exercise and will give your abs a great workout if they are done properly. The key is controlled movements. Bring your knees up to your elbows. It's just like doing a crunch but you're hanging instead of laying down. It's just a more advanced movement. Just rememeber form in any exercise is KEY. If you find that you are swinging your entire body to lift the weight or using momentum, you most likely are lifting more than you should and/or are doing the exercise incorrectly. Never sacrifice form for more weight. You'll end up doing more damage then good. The 12 week program on this website is a great work out and very challenging.

    Diet is also a key component for great abs. By eating wholesome foods that are not ladden with hydronated crap, saturated fats and other preservatives, you will trim down body fat.
  • free4lifeau

    Posts: 18

    Aug 12, 2007 1:17 AM GMT
    I have always loved tring abs & lower back - certainly the key to a great core strength. If you have that the rest is easy.

    Yes diet is a very important part of the trainign regiume, along with soem cardio. Anything to keep your bodyfat levels below that magic 8% mark. I gues my gene have been kind to me as if I hit the 8% then i think I am fat and do more to get it back to my normal 5% level.

    All exercise must be done ina controlled manner as slow reps in great form in always better then lots quickly.
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    Aug 12, 2007 7:35 AM GMT
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    Aug 13, 2007 4:41 PM GMT
    Hanging leg raises can be harmful to the lower back. I workout at a military gym that has the hanging leg raise chair BUT it has a half circle (half soft rubber ball) that supports the lower back when doing the legs raises supporting the lower lumbar. This is a base that has loads of paratoopers so you can understand the necesssity to keep the core strong without injuring the lower back, at least from leg raises..
    As for the six pack, just saw a medical article by a sports physician that said if you don't have the genetics to show the six pack (lose the mid section fat tissue) you can do all the sits you want, it ain't gonna happen unless you starve yourself. Some got it. Some of us don't.
    I do see many guys doing the neck/head sit ups? Sad. They lift with their head and necks and not their upper torso. Instead of looking straight up at a spot on the ceiling they sling their head and neck up to do a situp. BAD form and potential for neck herniations.
    An observation from Tampa, FL
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    Aug 13, 2007 5:24 PM GMT
    Hanging leg raises only work the abd as a 2ndary muscel group. It primarily works the hip flexors (psoas and illiacus).

    Yes, you do need to stabilize your trunk agains the leg motions, but the active and primary motion is hip flexion. Hip flexors are attached form the transverse process of L1 & L2 vertebrae, and your pelvic brim, to your inner thighs (the lesser tubercles). Doing this motion excessively puts your lower back into extension(arching). That is why most people feel it alot in their lwoer back than the abs...

    There are many good trainers out there, but just because a trainer is training a celebrity does not mean this person has any formal education and knowledge of the human body at all... Some of them only had weekend courses of the most general and fundamental kind in anatomy, physiology, and biomechanics here and there.. You have no idea how many patients we get with chronic injuries that can be contributed to bad advise from some of these trainers... Jessica Biel's trainer seems to be one of those.
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    Aug 13, 2007 5:29 PM GMT
    By the way the above is not a speculation, but fact. Muscle group recruitment is measured by EMG studies (electromyelogram.)

    What a person sometimes "feels" is not in synch with what is going on in the muscles... Leg raises is one such exercise.. You are working your lower back muscles just as hard, if not harder, than your abs to control the leg motions. And still, the hip flexors do most of the work, so leg raises are very poor at what they claim to do.
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    Aug 13, 2007 5:40 PM GMT
    Just to make this clear for everyone...

    Abs are responsible for primarily TRUNK FLEXION and ROTATION. Its secondary function is trunk stabilization.

    Abs DO NOT do the following:

    Neck flexion.

    Shoulder extension.

    Hip flexion.

    So if you see excess neck, shoulder, and hip motion, you are already going into substitution, or the use of unintended muscle groups.
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    Aug 13, 2007 5:45 PM GMT
    Yes, I was once a free lance trainer before I was a physical therapist/clinical instructor for intern therapists...

    I had wanted to take the certification from ACSM before I went to PT school, but a look at a friend's text material (and its not cheap), I decided to go for PT instead... Some of my classmates were also trainers at one time, and were also dissatisfied with the extent and depth of knowledge they were able to get as trainers...
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    Aug 13, 2007 6:29 PM GMT
    nycmuscle, you obviously are very knowledgeable - but i am actually a big fan of leg raises. i think it depends on if you train like a bodybuilder or a gymnast. and it depends on what you want from the leg raises. gymnasts have the strongest and best abs of any athletic group. they put the abs of bodybuilders to shame. in order to do what they do , gymnasts must have incredibly strong abs.

    the way they do it is like this:
    Hanging from a bar, bring your pointed toes to the bar keeping your legs straight and breaking your shoulder angle as little as possible.
    straightening the legs will increase the lever arm, increasing the amount of force needed by the abs to lift your legs.

    yes, they work other parts of the body - hands, legs, hipflexors, etc. but so what? working out like a gymnast has made me functionally strong and it has translated very well with other things like surfing.

    bottom line - do what works for you. everyone is different and has different needs. if you don't like it. do something else. i'm not a bodybuilder. i care about overall body strength. i love them so i do them.
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    Aug 13, 2007 6:51 PM GMT
    Actually, no....

    And you are a gymnast, you will see one of us for your shoudlers sometime inthe future....

    What youa re describing may shorten the moving lever arm, but the lever arm is STILL anterior to the trunk, causing a torque force. As you remember, torque is directly proportional the to diameter of the lever arm PERPENDICULAR to the line of gravity.

    In this case, you have ONLY decreased the total torque force but has NOT shifted the lever arm to a different axis.

    If the lever arm in anterior to the trunk, you WILL use probalgby 70% of the muscle effort on the hip flexors, 20% onthe lower back muscles, and 10% on the abs (and not even the lower bas). That is SIMPLE biomechanics, mathmatics...

    So why bother doing this exercise while you can concnetrate 90% of the muscle activity in the abs where you want to?

    Excessive work onthe hip flexors will increase lumbar lordosis, and you use the hip flexors every time you take a step, so excessive is not a good thing.

    So I hate to say, math and biomechanics disagree with your statement. I am a just a messenger...
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    Aug 13, 2007 6:58 PM GMT
    And for thoes of you who would do this exercise with your back agaisnt a padded surface like a half seat, you just taken out the work the abs has to do to stabilize the trun, and concentrat almost 100% of the muscle effort on to the hip flexors..

    You cant see the hip flexors, an out of ratio stronger hip flexor will put your hips tilting forward, causing all sorts of back pain problems..

    And as I said before, what an athtlete feels may not reflect what is really going on inthe muclses, this is not an assumption but a fact measured by extensive EMG studies. And just because one has a good physique or abs, while doing many other things such as other exercises, cardiovascular training, and proper diet, one may not know if it is indeed the leg raises that contribute to his physique. It may actually have a negative effect. You just cannot know whcih one is workingunless you take an exercise out of the routine one at at time to determine different outcomes.. This includes many seasoned atheltes
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    Aug 13, 2007 7:22 PM GMT
    This kind of reminds me of the "abs machine" at the gym I once joined. It kind of locked you into a chair and you grabbed a loaded bar behind your head and pulled the back forward and down. The first time I tried it, I found I could lift the whole weight stack without much effort. I don't think it was really doing much for the abs. I never could figure out why other people seemed to have so much trouble with it - maybe the hay-baling muscles came into play.
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    Aug 13, 2007 7:28 PM GMT
    I've never understood how the "ab machine" was working the abs! Seems to me like the thing does more for the back, neck, and arms than anything...and not all to the good.

    NYCMscle, God, you've got all the answers! Smart and sexy, the New York Package baby! Je t'aime! What you say about the raises, come to think of it, makes sense. Thx!
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    Aug 13, 2007 7:28 PM GMT
    That depends on how you do it...

    To pull the bar down, you can just pull your neck down, or only your elbows/arms down, or just fold at the hips, briging the whole trunk down... None of the aboove is correct...

    Brining you neck down is just doing neck flexion.

    Bringing your elbows/arms down is just doing shoudler extension.

    Folding from your hips and bringing your entier trunk down, without flexiing your trunk, without your sternum getting closer to your crotch, is just hip flexion...

    To use the machine correctly, your sternum/chest has to get from an away position relative to your crotch, to end up closer to your crotch. Your external abs has to be like an accordian...Shorter and longer, now that is trunk flexion...

    That is what I pointed out with mschiend defiend exercises equipemtns, you can get the machine moving, but you may have the used the correct muscles or have the correct motion...
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    Aug 13, 2007 7:30 PM GMT
    Thanks! Well this is my profession... and I teach this stuff... I better know it!