- Patrick Murphy never does overhead knee raises because they work the hip flexors more than the abs.
- The celebrity trainer said Russian twists were also ineffective and could lead to back pain.
- Instead, he recommends crunches with resistance and anti-rotation holds with bands or cables.
According to celerity personal trainer Patrick Murphy, popular core exercises like Russian twists and hanging knee raises aren’t effective for training abs.
Murphy, whose clients include Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lawrence and Zac Efron (for his famous shredded body in “Baywatch”), said he never programs routine moves.
Murphy told Insider there’s no need to over-complicate abs training because the muscles work in a simple way.
Instead of overhead knee lifts and Russian twists, try crunches with resistance and anti-rotation resistance bands, he said.
Do crunches instead of hanging knee raises
Murphy never does hanging knee raises, which involve hanging from a bar and bending over at the hips to raise your legs with your knees bent.
“The hanging knee isn’t necessarily an abs exercise,” Murphy said. In a hanging knee or leg raise, for many people, it’s the hip flexors rather than the abs that work, he said.
These exercises can put pressure on the lower stomach and hip area, but they’re not an optimal way to train the abs, he said.
“If I want someone to bust their abs, spinal flexion is the only one, end all be all,” Murphy said. Spinal flexion means leaning forward and contracting, with the ribs moving towards the hips. Examples of movements are crunches, such as on a resistance ball or with a cable machine.
Murphy says that when doing sit-ups, you should be able to feel the lower abs “pulling.” That means it works, he said.
Murphy is a fan of superset spinal flexion exercises (performing two exercises back to back), one with added resistance and one without.
However, it’s important not to do too much flexion without also performing spinal extension, he said.
“If you just bend too much, you create frontal tightness and you create a weaker lower back,” Murphy said. “Doing too many sit-ups, too many spinal bends, will weaken your lower back, so you have to twist and do alternate movements.”
Back extension exercises can be performed on a hyperextension bench or on the floor.
Do cable twists instead of Russian twists
Murphy said he would never program a Russian twist and instead recommends controlled rotational movements for the abs, using bands and cables.
When people sit on the floor and move a heavy medicine ball or weight across their body from side to side, the hips stay straight and this forces the spine to rotate more than it should , did he declare.
“If you have a fixed pelvis and you’re spinning a heavy ball from side to side, you’re just wearing a tear in your lumbar spine,” Murphy said.
Physical therapist Bryce Hastings agrees with Murphy: “Each vertebra in your lumbar spine only has about three degrees of rotation, so when you’re trying to produce a lot of rotation in your lumbar spine, you’re actually bringing the joint down. to an end-of-stroke spin,” he said. written for Les Mills. This causes additional pressure on the lower back.
Instead, try rotational movements that involve moving the whole body, including the pelvis, Murphy said.
Anti-rotation exercises are also effective, Murphy said, such as holding a resistance cable in front of you and resisting it pulling you to one side. A similar exercise is a pallof press, which Noam Tamir, the founder and CEO of TS Fitness in New York, recommended to Insider’s Gabby Landsverk.
“Anti-rotation exercises are great for the core,” Murphy said. “Rotational exercises are great for the core, as is bending the spine.”