Think You Understand Your Abs?

There is so much misinformation out there when it comes to training it is amazing anyone actually does anything.

The ‘core’ and ‘abs’ is probably one of the best examples of how a lack of basic physiology knowledge contributes to REALLY shitty training.

Here is a video – yes a little longer than I intended – that will show you HOW the ab muscle works and WHAT it is supposed to be doing!


Why is all of this important? In order to know how to train yourself, or for you trainers and coaches out there, your clients, it is extremely important to understand how things work.

Once you understand how the muscle functions and what it is supposed to be doing then you are in a far better position to know what advice you should be taking and what you should throw out with the latest Kanye mag. Just not worth your time.


Here are the 6 key points you need to know:

  • Feeling a muscle burn doesn’t mean the exercise is good.

That’s right. Just because you feel an isolated ‘burn’ in a muscle doesn’t mean it is a better exercise. In fact in my training with clients there is almost NEVER an isolated burning feeling. I do not believe any of your muscles are meant to work in isolation.

As we have seen in the video and I describe below, most ab exercises actually overwork the hip flexors. The reason you feel the burning in your abs is because you are isometrically flexing them – holding them tensed.

This is NOT how they are designed to work. So just stop it.

  • Your abs are not supposed to be ‘crunching’ your torso

More detail in the next point – but I really want to emphasis that your abs are not designed to crunch or to do a sit-up. These are just shitty exercises that over time have come to be associated with ab training.

Will these exercises ruin your life? Probably not. Could they? Yes. Over enough repetitions crunches will ruin your spine. Will you ever do enough? Maybe yes, maybe not. If you want to risk it, go for it.

Check out the work of Dr. Stuart McGill. He is THE MAN when it comes to spine health. Want to learn the science: here is an awesome 12 page article by Dr. McGill – there are very few pictures.

Dr. McGills article 

  • Your abs actually work as anti-extensors/rotators and to stabilize your spine

Really should check the video for this point. The gist of it is that your abs job is to stop you from twisting around too far and bending too far backwards. Additionally to this, they are there to stabilize the spine during movement, you know, like walking, throwing, swimming, and getting up out of bed.

  • Your abs are designed to stabilize during movement

Planking is good. But it isn’t the best. There is no movement to it. And your abs are designed to stabilize during movement. This is why we use a variety of carries and anti-rotation exercises to train the core.

Overhead carries and cable chops are some of the best!

  • Most ‘ab’ exercises are actually overworking the hip flexors

Easy to see. What is moving: the hip joint or the torso. Think you are training your abs? Look at the body move.

If the distance between the ribs and the hip bones barely moves but the hip joint itself gets larger and smaller – BAM! – more hip flexor than ab muscle. Your abs feel it because they are holding a flexed status.

  • Do you want to be training your hip flexors? NO.

We spend WAY too much of our lives sitting. Seriously. Work. Car. Eating. TV. Watching sports. You name it – we are always sitting. This is very bad for you.

This flexed hip position wreaks havoc on your hip flexors. Why o why then are you working those hip flexors even more when you train? Argh. Stop it. Overworking the hip flexors exacerbates so many hip, knee, and back issues. It is terrible for you.

Get rid of anything that overworks your hip flexors.

But you want a sweet set of sexy awesome abs you say?

Anti extension/rotation, lots of carries, deadlifts, squats, and stir the pot is everything you need to achieve that goal. Well, and you have to have great nutrition to slop off all that fat covering your abs.

They say the proof is in the pudding.

Well here is one of my clients who used to have a soft pudgy mid-section. I think you would agree things have changed. And guess what? No crunches. No hip flexor dominant exercises. In fact we NEVER do ANY ab specific training.


-Coach Taylor


Ep 17 – Fitness and pregnancy: what you need to know, 1 arm back rows, what is facia, making muscles long and lean

Ep 17 – Fitness and pregnancy: what you need to know, 1 arm back rows, what is facia, making muscles long and lean


Welcome to episode 18 of Coach Taylor Radio!

Exciting episode ahead! I have an awesome interview that I think needs to get shared everywhere in the fitness world! But first!

One arm back rows

Let’s talk about 1 arm back rows! This is one of the exercises I really feel needs to be changed in the fitness industry – particularly the way it is coached!

Here is a quick video going over it in more detail:


Facia and elastic tissue

Not something many people think about but it is very very important!!! I believe it is the most overlooked aspect of most training programs. ESPECIALLY as we age! What is it and why is it so important?

Here is a video clip that shows just how it works. BEWARE!!! This video is made using human cadavers!! But it is a great look at the science behind why the facia is so important.



Just a brief rant on how to make your muscles longer and leaner :)


Exercise and Pregnancy

To finish of this podcast is a fantastic interview with Dr. Shawna Johnston. She is not only highly credentialed but she is also very dedicated to her personal fitness. As a doctor, educator, and mother of three time is a precious commodity. She has learned over the years, however, just how important fitness is and never makes excuses. She is an inspiration!

This interview goes over exercise and pregnancy. Should you exercise? Is it safe to begin exercising? How much should you eat during pregnancy? What does the science say? What about exercise post C-section? Can exercise be harmful during breastfeeding?

Just a few of the topics Dr. Johnston answers for us in this interview.


Thank you so much for listening! As always, if you have questions, comments, concerns, or if there is something you want me to chat about in the future – please feel free to drop me a line!!!

-Coach Taylor

Exercise: You’re probably doing this wrong

I am a firm believer that there is usually no single ‘right’ way to do things in the world of fitness. As I showed in a recent post, there are definitely some things that just aren’t worth the risk, however, usually there is some grey area.

I want to tackle the one arm back row.

It is a staple exercise in gyms everywhere and I really feel like it is not done right!

Here is a clip going over everything! If you prefer text then keep reading!

Typically, the one arm back row is held to very strict form. You will hear trainers and fitness pros everywhere tell people to stop twisting their back and to keep their body still while they row.

This is crazy talk. I think this exercise is totally butchered.

Continue reading

Ep 16 – Eating for AM workouts, why you need a coach, ketogenic diets, tricep dips, and my ultimate favorite exercise equipment

Eating for morning exercise, why you need a coach, ketogenic diets, triceps dips are bad, and my favorite exercise equipment


Welcome to Episode 16 of Coach Taylor Radio!!

For those who are waiting to chat about exercise and pregnancy – you are going to have to hold out one more episode! I have a special guest coming on to chat about how to train while you are pregnant!


First up this week – eating for early AM workouts. Yes, a lot of people train at 6am – but what should you eat (or should you eat!) before training at this time

Why you need a coach – I strongly believe that everyone does better with a fitness coach. I will tell you why!

Ketogenic diets – you might know them as low carb diets – just wont seem to go away. I have a (moderately) long segment on the pros and cons of this nutrition strategy. More importantly I talk about the science behind it all!

Tricep Dips – had a popular video on this earlier in the week – this segment delves a little further into the science and details of why bench dips top my list of exercises I think need to be banned!!!!

Lastly – my absolute favorite piece of fitness equipment. I am not going to tell you what it is, you are going to have to make it to the end to find out :)


Once again, thank you everyone for listening. I am dedicated to helping you steer through the crap of the industry and hope that I am helping you in your fitness programs or helping those other trainers and coaches out there become better at what they do!

If there is anything you would like me to discuss in the future please do not hesitate to drop me a line!!! I love making things as interactive as possible!

-Coach Taylor

Stop Doing This Exercise

I have been planning to start a video series of my thoughts about a variety of fitness related topics and with the flood of inquiries I have received over the last couple of weeks, I am getting it started!

I am going to share my thoughts and film a few awesome rants on various health and fitness topics. Mostly, things I think need to change and need someone who knows what they are talking about to break up some long held beliefs.

Belief: 1) an acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists. 2)trust, faith, or confidence in someone or something

Unfortunately, a lot of the fitness industry is based on just that. A belief. Even in light of empirical evidence or basic understandings of physiology and biomechanics, people hold on to things that are not effective or have a high risk of causing injury. Not to mention many things are just downright ineffective.

We shouldn’t be basing how we treat our bodies on a belief. We have to let those go and analyze everything empirically.

This first video is a look at one of the exercises residing on my BANNED list. I think that no-one should ever do this exercise. Ever. Period.

The Bench Dip.

If you like text and not video clips – here is a summation of why I believe this exercise should be banned.

If you look at the photo above you can see that Abbie’s shoulder is in a precarious position. It is fully extended and because of the hand placement, has some internal rotation. Then we add load to the joint, via bodyweight or some of the crazies out there who then add weight to their legs to make this exercise harder.

Now we have a joint (the shoulder) in a very unstable position, to which we then add load. THEN we go through multiple repetitions of this exercise.

Risk to shoulders – high. If you take the time to watch the video you will see what a rep looks like and I show a different way to look at this shoulder position. Often people don’t understand the biomechanics of a joint action in different perspectives.

What’s the point of a bench dip? To target the triceps. Ok, I can deal with that. You want to train triceps. Bootcamp and group ex instructors use this exercise all the time because it is easy to coach, easy to setup, and can they can put a large group through it easily.

But the price is putting the shoulder joint into a highly unstable position.

So instead I have presented an alternative. Tricep pushups. As noted in the video the tricep pushup doesn’t put the shoulder into such a precarious position and it still targets the tricep.

Win win!

It’s a lot harder though and may require some serious practice and training time. But hey, your shoulder health is worth it!

-Coach Taylor


Questions or comments? I would love to hear them! Anything you want me to post about in future blogs? Just ask!!

Ep 15 – Response to blog, you NEED carbs, don’t separate bodyparts, grips strength, and death of personal training

Response to blog, you NEED carbs, don’t separate bodyparts, grips strength, and death of personal training

Welcome to Episode 15 of Coach Taylor Radio!

This week has been a whirlwind as the fitness community has picked up on my latest blog. I chat about the blog this episode and respond to some of the feedback I have received! Here is a link if you haven’t read the blog yet!

The Brutally Honest 6 Reasons You are Still Overfat

Next I talk about carbs. Do you need them? Yes. They are vital to your health!!!!

Separating your body part by part has been a staple of the fitness industry for years, but is it the best way to train? I argue that no, it is not.

Grip strength is a fantastic assessment of your health and as more research is done exploring this it is a little known thing that you should know about!!

I fell out of love with Personal Training many years ago and I finally feel that the rest of the fitness community is starting to open up their eyes! This episode I share my thoughts and here is a link to an awesome blog by my wife chatting about the subject!

RIP Private Personal Training

There it is! Episode 15! Thanks for taking the time to listen and as always, if you want me to cover anything in a future episode please send your requests my way!

-Coach Taylor


The Brutally Honest 6 Reasons You Are Still Overfat

(* Edit January 30th 2015 – In response to my use of profanity. Yes, I swear in here. Yes, I meant to. Yes, I know more words than curse words. Like Quentin Tarantino uses profanity for dramatic effect, so do I. If I were writing for a scientific journal or magazine – both of which I have done – I would compose my prose differently. However, it is a blog. My blog. And I will write as I wish. And this is not meant to be motivational – this is supposed to be an eye opener, a kick in the pants, something to cut through the crap and cause a reaction. Which it very much has. )


I haven’t written a new blog in quite some time. Why? Because every time I go to write a new blog I realize that I have already made a post on the topic, most often many years ago. So I just repost that. How does this happen? It happens because there is very little that is new in fitness.

Sure we repackage things and create flashy new titles for the same old same old. The zone diet has become the paleo diet. Ab workouts became core training, which is becoming functional fitness. Warm-ups became prehabilitation, which is becoming movement training. It’s all the same stuff at the most basic level. When you actually break it all down to individual components you will see that it is all basically the same thing. Except the new versions are making a lot of money for those who are able to get creative and do the repackaging.

When it comes to fat loss (weight loss for all those over 40) things are no different. In fact I would say that the societal drive to ‘lose weight’ and have a skinnier (now leaner and soon to be more muscular) body is probably the absolute worst culprit for this lack of change.

I am told on a fairly regular basis that I am an asshole. It is something I have pretty much become calloused to. I used to wonder if it was something I was doing wrong, so I spent a lot of time trying to understand why some people consider me an asshole with a stick up my ass thinking everyone is out to get me, when in actual fact I have literally dedicated my life to helping other people improve the quality of their lives.

Of all places, an Internet meme summed it all up for me and I suddenly figured it out.see-through-your-bullshit-300x300

My problem is my complete commitment to honesty. I am simply too brutally honest. Add to this the fact that I can see straight through bullshit and it is a recipe for offense. Just ask my lovely wife how annoying this can be!

You see we live in a culture of jazz hands. Put on a smile and tell people what they want to hear. Maybe, just maybe, passive aggressively try and tell someone the truth. But never in a way that could possibly offend anyone.

Fuck. That. Shit.

I don’t live like that and for better or for worse I won’t ever change this. SOMEONE out there has to deliver the truth. Argh.

So this blog is designed for all of you concerned with fat loss and who are in pursuit of a leaner, less fat laden, physique. Be forewarned! This is coming at you in a brutally honest matter and from more than a decade of experienced combined with more certifications and education on the topic than 98% of the population.


The Truth About Why You Are Still Overfat

  Continue reading

Ep 14 – Should you be sore, sitting will kill you, eat before you train, don’t wear heels

Should you be sore, sitting will kill you, importance of eating before and after exercise, trainers shouldn’t hawk you products, and why heels are terrible.

Welcome to episode 14 of Coach Taylor Radio!

As always – a huge thank you to those listening – it is my goal always to deliver great fitness information to you and I am honoured you spend some of your valuable time listening along!

This episode:

Importance of eating before and after exercise: yes – you HAVE to eat immediately after you train! And what you eat before you train can have a huge impact as well!

Should you be sore: Bootcamp instructors around the world will cringe at this – but you shouldn’t be going for maximal soreness from your workouts!

Heels: the might not ‘kill’ you, but they sure aren’t doing good things to your body

Hawking products: I do not believe that your trainer, coach, or fitness facility should be hawking you products – especially if they come arm in arm with an MLM scheme!!!!

Sitting: some recent research has brought this to everyones attention and really, it is probably worse for you than you realize!!!!!
Thank you again for listening! If there is anything you would like to talk about in the future – simply drop me a line or email me HERE and I will rant away!!!!!

-Coach Taylor

PS. Remember this podcast can also be subscribed to on iTunes!

Ep 13 – 5 reasons you’re not losing fat, should you join a gym?, no cardio days!, New Year’s resolution

5 reasons you’re not losing fat, should you join a gym, don’t separate cardio and strength, New Years Resoltion!

Welcome to Episode 13 of Coach Taylor Radio!

This episode is designed for everyone kicking off a few New Years promises! Lot’s of info on fat loss and how to make sure you stay committed this year!

Top 5 reasons you are not losing FAT!!!

New Years Resolutions – how to stay committed!

Should you join a gym?

Stop separating cardio and strength exercises

Hope you get some good info out of this episode! If you have any feedback or want me to talk about something in particular in a future episode – email me HERE

Happy New Year!

-Coach Taylor

Ep 12 – cellulite, resting at the gym, waist to hip ratio, fat loss wraps, is research any good?

Cellulite, resting at the gym, research, waist to hip ratio, and fat loss wraps.

Welcome to episode 12 of Coach Taylor Radio!

After an awesome fat loss seminar last week I wanted to pull in a few of the topics that were discussed because I feel they are UBER important!!!

Cellulite: what is it? Why do you have it? What can you do about it??

To rest or not to rest?  That is the question people ask everyday as we see many people hunched over their smartphones between sets. Should you be taking a break or going non-stop through your program?

Research: PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE listen to this segment. It is important! In the fitness world – question everything! This is the reason why!

Waist to hip ratio: Better than BMI or your scale!

Fat loss wraps: do they meet the claims? Should you be buying them?
And thats a wrap! ;) Thank you to everyone who tunes in – I appreciate each and every one of you! As always – if you have questions, comments, or concerns, please do not hesitate to drop a line!

If there is anything you would like me to include in upcoming episodes I a would love to hear!

-Coach Taylor

Strength and Fitness Coach