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Kettlebell TGUs and your midsection

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Hi folks,

my apologies if this has been posted before.
Inside the Muscles: Best Ab Exercises | T Nation

Bret Contreras tested a variety of exercises (incl. Chin Ups, Deadlifts etc.) and measured peak and mean activation of four muscle groups: lower rectus abdominis, external obliques, internal obliques, and erector spinae. Pros: Seems valid. Cons: Single Case Study - so less generalizability.

In this limited study the best exercises for ab work were hanging leg raises, chin ups, ab wheel and the bodysaw (all of them did much better than the traditional plank and even the hardstyle plank).

The kettlebell community has praised the core-activating benefits of the Turkish Get Up (TGU) for many years. It's taken quite a while for some strength coaches to catch on but nowadays most coaches are having their athletes perform the TGU in their warm-ups. The TGU was the only exercise in this experiment that had over 100% peak activation in all four core muscles that were tested. Good job kettlebellers!

TGU really seems to be a great GPP exercise: you build a lot of strength in all kinds of directions :)
After doing TGUs regularly, I definitely noticed how much easier standard planks were after doing them in group exercise in my Muay Thai class. I think the key is to do them slowly rather than worry about adding weight. Pause at key points before adding weight.
Cheers ! tbh i think planks are poor for strength building. hanging leg raises & dragonflags is what i would do for abs.

chin ups isnt for everybody... although they should be :)

its good to know tgu scored so well in his test. the guy is a good source of information imho.

id like to add that bent presses hit my obliques harder then tgu.. but this is just a feeling
@Bauer , that same quote is included in Easy Strength. I have personally felt more solid since doing TGUs
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Just how good are those EMG readings?
I just think of them as a rough guideline.
IMO there's too much room for error -> placement of the "measure points", individual levers, individual strengths, indivdual asymetries etc.
You'd need to have a really big study of 1000+ participants to get reliable information.
I don't think that I ever read about an EMG study with more than 50 participants and most of them are even lower.
Bret Contreras did this just with his own body.
Just think of this. He might have a minor asymetry which forces e.g. his traps to take over some of the work that's supposed to be done by the lats (he has more EMG articles like the ab-article in the OP).
All of his measurements would be off and misleading.
Exercise selection is also an issue.
For example can we really compare a 120lbs pallof press to a 90lbs landmine? Maybe a 200lbs pallof press would be a better comparison to a 90lbs landmine. I absolutely don't know, but IMO you need to be able to explain why you use X with load Y to avoid comparing apples to oranges.
Another issue is form or personal levers. Look at the insane amount of lower rectus abdominis activation during BW chin-ups. If I think of hollow position chin-ups I can think of such activation, but look at how most gym goers do chin/pull-ups - big arch in the lower back. Most likely they will not get that kind of activation.
IMO you see that when you compare the BW chin-up to the 90lbs chin-up. He most likely used a hip strap to load up the 90lbs and that lead to a lower LRA activation than with just bodyweight, because maybe the hollow position was compromised.
I stop here, but I think you can see that there are a lot of issues with EMG testing and therefore you should be sceptical about it.

Btw the TGU had more than 100% peak activation in all of the 4 tested ab muscles. This was only a 50lbs (~23Kg) TGU and Bret is a really strong guy. Think about what happens to his EMG results if he goes for a 32, 40 or 48Kg TGU.
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Just how good are those EMG readings?

To add to what @Kettlebelephant said, it's one more piece of the puzzle. For years I was skeptical that TGUs had any value. When I tried them the first few times I performed them incorrectly. But I thought the movement was interesting, and there was anecdotal evidence that it was a great movement, so I kept reading about it and watched videos for proper technique. I now like them and I definitely feel my abs working. So, if you want to know whether doing X exercise is good or whether Y routine is good, the formula is:

scientific evidence (if any) + anecdotal evidence + personal experience.

Don't discount the personal experience part. For instance, Bret Contreras is a big fan of the hip thrust for glute development. For me the hip thrust is awkward and uncomfortable so I don't do them. You don't need to do every single exercise that someone thinks is "great."
@Kettlebelephant : Sure, take it with a grain of salt!

However, you wouldn't need 1000 participants. This is not a poll. If the laboratorian is skilled (--> reliable measurement) and the effects don't vary that much then you could get reliable, generalizable results with as few as 30 participants. When standard deviations are small, effects are strong (as indicated by r, Cohen's d, etc.) and so forth you would get pretty clear results. You could then compute confidence intervals to indicate a range.

But I guess we don't really need to discuss the scientific method, we are TGU believers anyway, right? :D

What I find interesting is, that with a complex movement such as a TGU it's easy to miss what it does for you. A lot of people are not that attuned to listening to their bodies and that's why I like both anecdotal advice, WTH reports and articles such as the one I posted.
You're holding up a heavy weight in every conceivable posture the human body can take with such a weight. It is resistance training in as many directions as possible. This is its good point. Definitely a good thing for those of us wanting all-directional strength. For absolute strength in only one direction, it is not good.
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