If you were planning on using a metal to conduct energy (e.g. electricity or heat). What would you choose? Copper or Steel? Quite possibly you don’t care (it really isn’t something that concerns me either – I’ll let the contractor take care of it), but keep reading if you are concerned with your ab strength & core stability.
According to the Conductive Order of Metals (thank you OK Google) copper is 11 spots ahead of stainless steel at #2 overall (silver is #1) as the best metal to use for conductive activities. What does this mean? Copper allows energy to quickly pass from one location to another to get the job done. If you turned your lamp on at home, and had stainless steel in your wires … you’d have to wait longer for the light to turn on. How long? I do not know, but in this day and age nobody has time to wait for anything!
So ab strength & core stability … I was going somewhere with this…
“Abs of Steel” has been a popular marketing term used to describe the result of any ab routine/exercise. Maybe you have that DVD (or ::gasp:: VHS) on your shelf, right next to your dusty copies of Buns of Steel and Tai-Bo. But what does Abs of Steel really mean and translate to?
When I think of abs of steel – I think rock-hard, six-pack abs and a washboard stomach. Maybe you are thinking the same thing. Sometimes I hear sculpted as an adjective for abs of steel, but I don’t see steel as being a good material to sculpt with – maybe we should call them abs of kiln-fired clay (but I don’t think that is as marketable). I just don’t think you want to go for abs of steel, or sculpted, or chiseled, or shredded abs. I think you want to aim for … cue the music … abs of copper!
When your body moves in space: getting up, bending over, lifting, carrying, rotating, pushing, and/or pulling, it depends on a core that is efficient in transferring energy from one location to the next. When I’m on one knee and need to get up off of the ground, my abs have to transfer the energy my foot has created with the ground to get me up smoothly. If I need assistance to get up, or “scoop” forward to rise up – then my abs are not of copper, but of, well … steel.
When you do a push-up, a standard push-up, and you wiggle your way up to the top with a little saggy back added in, your abs are not conducting efficiently (or at all) and experiencing energy leaks; you don’t want that! Why don’t you want energy leaks? For one, it compromises the spine (not good) and two – it just doesn’t look good! Have you ever admired, or complimented, someone’s technique when they pull on a door with all their might just so they can get out of their car? Maybe you haven’t been keen enough to notice people rising from the ground without looking as if they were shot in the leg! You’ll see what I’m talking about …
Gray Cook, the founder of the Functional Movement Screen, will say:
When someone loses core stability, a bunch of planks don’t fix that shit.
And I think he’s talking about abs of copper here; core stability is a firing problem not a strength problem per se. When I say firing, I am talking about the brain sending the correct signals to the correct muscles to fire at the correct times. Think about a car that won’t start when it should, it misfires. Why? Well, there is most likely a problem with the ignition system and something isn’t responding when it’s time to transfer the needed spark when it’s time to get going. It’s not because the car isn’t strong enough – all the parts are there.
So, too, is your body … all the parts are there, you aren’t missing muscles. If you find yourself at the bottom of a push-up, squat, lunge, etc and you just plain can’t get up – then it’s a strength issue. However, if you find your way up to the top, but it looks ugly with a capital “U,” then it’s a firing/wiring/stability issue. This is where many people get it wrong, however. They try to resolve their firing/wiring problems with “abs of steel” training. Think again of the car analogy, if your car is misfiring, and you try to pump the gas while turning the ignition … you stand a good chance of flooding your engine. By trying to solve your firing problems with a strength/power solution (ab crunches/planks) you only made things worse.
All exercises should have an Abs of Copper component, but here are three I pulled from our library that calls upon your conducting abs even more. Not only good exercises to train with, but good exercises to see where you stand with your Abs of Copper. Enjoy!