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Old 05-19-09, 06:04 PM   #1
arexjay
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Hip flexors hurt after doing decline ab work.

Whenever I do ab work on the decline benches, my hip flexors (and to a lesser extent, my quads) start to hurt. Kind of a twinge/sore feeling. It starts about halfway through the exercise and lasts the entire rest of the day. This has been repeated in multiple gyms and multiple decline ab benches, so I figure it has to do with my form.
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Old 05-19-09, 07:44 PM   #2
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I am not sure how you are managing to do that. A crunch shouldn't use your hips much, and just hanging around doesn't use muscles much either.

Try doing crunches on one of those exercise balls like they use in Pilates. Studies show them to be surprisingly effective.
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Old 05-19-09, 10:33 PM   #3
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Simply put you're cheating yourself on your form by using your hips and quads to stabilize/pull your upper body up. This should be a core workout....do as suggest and try using a exercise ball so that you can't use your legs to assist you in lifting your upper body
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Old 05-20-09, 11:58 AM   #4
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welcome to the planet.

Your quads and hip flexors are needed to pull your body upright from a declined positon. This is very common when people start doing situps on a decline bench.
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Old 05-20-09, 08:55 PM   #5
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You mentioned "twinge." The soreness starts halfway through the exercise, and only last the rest of the day. Sounds like a nerve may be getting pinched during the exercises.
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Old 05-20-09, 09:22 PM   #6
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Yeah, totally normal. It'll hurt until you get stronger, except then you'll just do more of them, so it'll continue to hurt. The great thing about these exercises is that they strengthen the exact muscles you need to pedal circles. I don't really do them for core. Doesn't take much core strength to ride a bike, regardless of all the gym-rat stuff you read. But it does take some pretty unusual hip flexors and some slightly odd quads. Decline ab work is good. I like doing situps on those benches that hold your hips at a 90 angle to your torso in the starting position. That bench does a good job of simulating the motion and also helps you to learn to breath better in a tuck.

Cyclists do a lot of stuff that doesn't make sense to a bodybuilder.
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Old 05-21-09, 07:50 AM   #7
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Now that's a reply I didn't expect.

Decline crunches are the best ab exercise I know of. I have serious reservations about hammering that hard on your hips doing decline situps, esp. the psoas and ipsoas.

It's at moments like this I'd like to see a response from someone knowledgeable in exercise physiology.
But my feeling is that it isn't a good idea.
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Old 05-21-09, 02:12 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by late View Post
Now that's a reply I didn't expect.

Decline crunches are the best ab exercise I know of. I have serious reservations about hammering that hard on your hips doing decline situps, esp. the psoas and ipsoas.

It's at moments like this I'd like to see a response from someone knowledgeable in exercise physiology.
But my feeling is that it isn't a good idea.
I went to exrx.net, which is my main reference for exercise physiology. Not that I have any knowledge of that beyond 40 years of gym and biking experience. That website lists the hip flexor as the iliopsoas, a muscle with two heads, the psoas and the iliacus. Nothing on an ipsoas, nor does google turn it up.

Be that as it may, what do you do in the gym to strengthen your hip flexors? I haven't found anything else that puts the right load on them in the right range of motion. They're one of those ignored muscles, like the hamstrings. Only proper way I've found to isolate hams are Good Mornings or straight-legged deadlifts. Don't see too many people in the gym doing those. I don't think I'm putting any more load on the psoas than when seated and chasing a bunch of other single-speeding idiots up some godawful steep climb.

From exrx.net:
Quote:
Incline Situp
During the first portion of the sit up, the abdominal muscles flex the spine. The hip flexor muscles flex the hip to complete the movement. If the abdominal muscles are not strong enough to counter the Psoas' pull on the spine, the lumbar vertebrae can be forced into hyperextension. This can occur during other hip flexor movements as well.

In the book "Strength Training for Young Athletes" by Kraemer and Fleck, the cover states "Includes over 100 safe exercises for 18 muscle groups and 16 sports. They include two sit up exercises with the feet anchored

Page 105: Bent-Leg Sit-up
Page 106: Bent-Leg Sit-up with a Twist (on incline)
Steven J. Fleck, PhD and William J. Kraemer, PhD are probably the most well respected scientists studying resistive training. Fleck and Kreamer have dedicated their careers in investigating researching, and writing both scientific and main stream publications on weight training.

Kreighbaum (1996) states: "The physical condition of the performer dictates how safe and effective these exercises will be in the strengthening the abdominal"

For those with no history of lower back pain during hip flexion, situps or leg-hip raises can be considered so the abdominal and hip flexors can be exercised in a single exercise. A determination should be made if the client has adequate abdominal strength to counter the psoas' pull. Like the lower back integrity previously discussed, this biomechanical deficiency can be easily corrected (see links immediately below). Crunches, or half sit ups can be prescribed for the first months before the introduction of hip flexor movements.

Incidentally, the bend of the hip severally diminishes Psoas' mechanical efficiency and consequently its pull on the lumbar spine. See tension potential. Kreighbaum (1996) adds: "For a performer with weak abdominal, the hip-flexed position is the best".
Which is why I do them with a 90 bend at the hip.
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Old 05-21-09, 09:16 PM   #9
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It's been a while, I got the spelling wrong. That's a good source, I'll have to take a look at it. Got a link?

Not sure I see a benefit to hammering them that hard in cycling.

Hypextensions work the hams somewhat. You can lie on your back with your feet on an exercise ball. Raise your torso while rolling the ball back towards you.
That works the hams. Nothing wrong with deadlifts.
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Old 06-13-09, 08:02 PM   #10
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Sorry to weigh in so late. I've been out and about...

These decline "ab exercises" are not as much targeting abs as they are the hip flexors- ouch! You're heading for a groin pull, but I guess if you're all about that, then go right ahead.

I'm a classical pilates instructor, and a decline position would not fly for the exact reason why the OP stated- too much strain on the hip flexors, as late correctly identified.

On a pilates reformer, we do have the foot straps, but that is not brought into the pilates training until the core muscles are strengthened. I'd add it into an intermediate to advanced exercise program, but not for newbies. Newbies would feel the need to pull up with their hip flexors rather than stabilize the core and initiate movement from the appropriate core muscles.

Too many people do not know how to exercise the abdominals. I actually had a client hire me for her husband, who showed me some funky exercises he did for abs. Well, after three weeks, it was just too dang hard for him, so he quit! He's back to doing his ridiculous abs, and he still has pain in the lower back and is tight after golf. Fool. I don't pity him either.

If you really want to do some effective abdominal exercises, take a pilates class from someone who has a classical pilates training background. Try to find someone who trains and explains what muscles should be initiating the movement, and what muscles need to be used to stabilize the core as you're going through the exercises. If you can get in a good mat class that goes this route, then you'll be better off over the long run.

As an FYI, the best abdominal exercise you can do? THE BICYCLE. Correctly performed, it works all three abdominal muscle groups- transverse abs, obliques, and rectus abdominals. But that is for strictly just the abs only. If you want to work core, there are A LOT of really great core exercises out there that can accomplish that.

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Old 06-15-09, 09:24 AM   #11
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Hypextensions work the hams somewhat. You can lie on your back with your feet on an exercise ball. Raise your torso while rolling the ball back towards you.
This exercise (I call it the roll-back) is good, but there are other ways to hit the hams much harder. Here's my favorite:

Lay on your back with the ball about 6 inches from your butt and your feet flat on the ball, about 60% - 70% up the side. Rotate your hips upwards until your body is aligned straight from the shoulder blades to the knee. The ball will roll away from you a little bit, so that your feet are a little closer to the top of the ball (but not all the way up). Your knees should be slightly straighter than a 90 degree angle -- if they aren't, start over and adjust how high up your feet are on the ball and/or how far the ball is from your butt.

Now comes the hard part. Holding your body in the up-position, lift one leg off of the ball and hold it as long as you can. Repeat, alternating legs.

You will not be working the leg that you are lifting off of the ball. You will be working the leg that stays on the ball, keeping the ball from rolling away from you or to one side. This will work the ham more than you would ever think. The stricter you are about keeping your back and hips straight, the harder (and more effective) it will be.
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