The world is full of wonderful things: Boston Terriers, heated car seats, rice cookers and coffee. However, the world is full of equal and yet more idiotic things and still, we never seem to learn from our mistakes. This is evident in the fitness world as it seems novelty takes priority over reason and safety. Do not worry, this will be a short rant and if you have made it this far, it is almost over.
GHD Sit ups: Killing a Spine Near You
The human spine is a pretty cool thing. It is comprised of a series of joints and it can do a lot of things too! It can flex, extend, and laterally flex/extend…however, a lot of people seem to treat the spine like every other joint in the body. The spine is not meant to be fully loaded with repeated full ranged motions. In other words, our spine is meant to stabilize and allow for the disks to maintain their rigidity to handle loads safely. Doing the big barbell stuff calls for disks that have full integrity. Repetitive nonsense found in the GHD sit up diminishes the quantity of our spine and its components.
If you do not believe me, here is a quote from Dr Stuart McGill:
“Programming of the GHD Sit-up is problematic when combined with other exercises that require stiff and tough collagen fibers, such as Olympic lifts. The GHD softens the discs, while Olympic lifts require stiff discs to safely handle the loads,” Dr. McGill says. “It would be wiser to keep a consistent approach to training to reduce the risk. In other words, avoid the GHD Sit-Up if you are training to lift heavy loads.”
Everyone Is Different
Everyone is built differently. People squat, press, and dead lift differently. Certain individuals even have thicker spines than others…all of this has to go into proper programming. When you start making one size fits all programs because you are too lazy, then bad things start to happen. More specifically, people who have thicker spines, will be in a world of hurt if they perform the GHD sit up. In contrast, individuals with a thinner, more flexible spine, will have an easier time handling this exercise…
Risk vs Reward
I am not in the habit of saying something is bad across the board. In this realm, certain exercises and protocols work for different people. We cannot plant an immovable flag and say you cant change my mind. You have to allow the research to dictate the direction in which you are going. You also have to be able to pick up shop and be willing to admit you were wrong when research trumps your prior opinion. When you are having clients or athletes do something like the GHD sit up, you have to ask yourself: is it worth it? I cannot believe that people still do this exercise… all you have to do it look at it being done and your stomach should turn….but does the risk of injury outweigh the potential rewards in this situation? No…no it does not….
Stop doing this exercise. Help spread awareness of the idiotic nature of this exercise. Only you can prevent GHD situps….