I have pretty strong abs, but I can’t do a roll up from the floor. I have been trying for years. What would be the reasons for this?
First, you need to understand your body position relative to the force that is challenging the motion. You’re only as “strong” as your body has been conditioned to be strong. Based on your question, you are positioned supine on the floor. Therefore from the floor position, the resistance is perpendicular, which makes the position against the resistance the GREATEST from the start position (supine). If your body has not been trained to react to this SPECIFIC demand, it will remain difficult. An interesting fact is in function, the body always seeks the path of least resistance. Most people, when supine on the floor, will roll to the side to get up, not “crunch” upward. In other words, the movement of spinal flexion from a supine position (roll up) is more unnatural to human function than natural. To have “strong” abdominals, we first must ask… strong for what? Strong for life function or strong for a roll up? If life function is your goal, then knowing the abdominals decelerate/accelerate the rib cage and pelvis in all planes of motion becomes paramount in deciding what movements to perform for optimal abdominal conditioning. However, if your goal is to perform a roll up for a specific reason, then you must condition the zone of transformation from supine to a motion of flexion. My first recommendation is to use a stability ball and, from a flexed posture, decelerate the spine into extension followed by an immediate flexion (zone of transformation). This will condition the “extension to flexion” motion of the spine to assist you in improving your goal function of a roll up from the floor. The concept here is simple: you need to decelerate before you accelerate, train the zone of transformation which means go opposite first and understand the specificity of body position relative to force application.
For more about how to condition your abs, refer to Gary Gray’s Functional Video Digest on Abdominals.
Thanks for your question!