First, the Janda Sit-Up up was developed by exercise physiologist Dr. Vladimir Janda. Dr. Janda is considered one of the world's leading experts on back problems. He's also a rehab consultant to The World Health Organization. They listen to him, so should you.
Janda's goal was to crack-the-code and develop an exercise to completely "isolate" the abs and eliminate the associated back problems caused by crunches and conventional sit-ups. A lot of the fitness community believes they're nailing down this back saving "ab isolation" with the crunch. Not true...
Irradiation, Muscle Function and Janda Sit-Up Facts
And here's why... The failure of crunches and sit-ups centers on a neurological phenomenon called irradiation. What irradiation does is spread contraction to nearby muscle groups through tension when a muscle is activated.
When he dug further, Janda realized the crunch, along with the conventional sit-up used the hip flexors (those muscles at the top of your thighs) as a lever to help raise your torso. That's not isolation, that's irradiation.
For a long time most people assumed the crunch was supposed to remove the hip flexors from the conventional sit-up. And eliminate the associated back problems because you're only partially raising the torso when performing a crunch.
But, the crunch only partially eliminates the hip flexors. Irradiation still recruits them to some degree during a crunch. The ab isolation problem wasn't fully solved with the crunch. If you want to understand this more...
Try this example of irradiation. Put your foot flat on the floor. Now make a fist with your toes. As you're doing this, you might think you're isolating the muscles in your foot. Not so. Try it again and you'll see you're activating more than your foot muscles. You'll notice other muscle contractions from the calf all the way up to your quads. What you've just experienced was irradiation at work. Now what?
Well, eliminating irradiation only solves half the isolation problem. Janda needed to recruit some other muscle group to activate the abs via the sit-up. And without causing irradiation from the hip flexors. He solved this with the human nervous system's principal of reciprocal inhibition.
The human nervous system's reciprocal inhibition relaxes the muscles opposite of the ones contracting. To relax the hip flexors, Janda needed to devise a trigger to perform the sit-up with muscles opposite to the hip flexors (the hamstrings and glutes) to isolate the abs without hip flexor recruitment.
Check this out. This is how he discovered how to remove the hip flexors, recruit the hamstrings and glutes and trigger "ab isolation." First, he placed his hands behind the subject's calfs. Then, he had the subject tighten the hamstrings and the glutes while their calfs were pressed up against his hands. He then had the subject perform a crunch and guess what happened?
Surprisingly, without anything to anchor the legs during the crunch, the only hip flexor recruitment is from the weight of your legs. When the Janda Sit-Up is done correctly, the abs rely on the hamstrings and the glutes (butt) as an anchor to achieve lift instead of the hip flexors. This almost totally isolates the abs during the sit-up. Pretty neat eh.'
How to Perform Vew-Do Balance Board Janda Sit-Ups
To perform a Janda Sit-Up using a Vew-Do Balance Board, there are a couple of prerequisites. First, you'll need to be the proud owner of a Vew-Do Indy, Flow, or Sk8 Balance Board. Second, get your paws on the Vew-Do Plyometric Training Rock System.
Look to get yourself in a seated position and face the sub-deck (underneath) side of the board which you place in front of you horizontally. Throw your feet over the board so they lay flat on the floor on the other side.
Now, lie back on the floor and scoot your butt until your knees are at a 90 degree angle. The backs of your calves should be up against the front of the board about halfway between your knee and your ankle and both feet should be flat on the floor.
Get ready and take a deep breath¡ you're about to wreak havoc on your abs. Cross your arms on your chest. Keeping your feet flat on the floor and your toes pointed, tighten your glutes (butt) and hamstrings, then slowly and without jerking, sit up (crunch) as high as you can. Then slowly lower yourself to your back. Take a deep breath and get ready for your next rep.
If you knock the board over by trying to pull your knees to your chest; that means you're not keeping your feet flat on the floor and you're trying to use the board as leverage. No good, you're doing it wrong. The exercise when performed correctly, isolates the abs without any enablers like your hip flexors. Your abs do all the work.
Your goal should be to do an ab pounding half sit-up or a crunch. Don't worry about trying to do a full sit-up. It's virtually impossible given the physics because essentially your legs become weightless. Plus, you're accomplishing the ultimate ab isolating exercise with a perfectly formed Janda Sit-Up.
Work Janda Sit-Ups into your core training with a goal of 5 sets of 3-5 reps. Once you build up a tolerance for the exercise you can add weight using 5 to 25 pound plates which you can lay on top of your upper abdomen. Keep the number of reps low with no more than 3-5 per set.
That's it, congratulations; you've just educated yourself on ab training and Janda Situps.
By: Rick Contrata