Ab Training

August 5, 2011

T-Nation Article on Crunches

Here’s a link to the T-Nation article I co-wrote with Bret Contreras titled, To Crunch or Not to Crunch. The article refutes the claims made by some that crunches damage the spinal discs, discussing the relevant evidence on the subject. It complements the review article we recently published in the NSCA Strength and Conditioning Journal, and is a little more “consumer-friendly” for those without a scientific background.

Stay Fit!



  1. Hi Brad,

    I have to ask this. What about for people with osteoporosis (or even osteopenia)? The NOF suggests we should avoid exercises that involve forward flexion or spinal rotation. (http://www.nof.org/aboutosteoporosis/movingsafely/moving)

    I think a LOT of women (some men) are in this “bone-loss” boat, many of whom don’t even realize it yet. Do your findings apply to US?

    I have been doing crunches (regular and oblique) for years and am suddenly confused about what is safe to do in the gym, given a recent diagnosis of osteoporosis. I have built up some strength over the years and prefer to think these NOF recommendations don’t apply to me. But do they? (I am far from being a frail senior. And I do work my spinal erectors regularly and do weighted planks as well.)

    But when it comes down to it, the last thing in the world I want is to fracture.

    Comment by Kathleen — August 6, 2011 @ 10:41 am

  2. Hey Kathleen:

    Our recommendations were made for “otherwise healthy” individuals. Medical issues always must be dealt with on a case-by-case basis, and take into account the individual aspects of the condition. As a general rule, it is best to avoid spinal flexion those with osteoporosis. The most important factor in any training routine is to adhere to the Hippocratic oath: above all, do no harm. With respect to osteoporosis, any risks of fracture supersede potential benefits of performing spinal flexion. At least that would be my position on the subject.


    Comment by Brad — August 7, 2011 @ 7:40 am

  3. Thanks, Brad!

    Comment by Kathleen — August 7, 2011 @ 10:35 am

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