Protect the spine, stabilize the midline, and brace with sufficient intra-abdominal pressure. That's what you really want. Athletically-developed abdominal musculature helps in achieving these ends. "3 Important Ab Exercises" is the Week 23 article of the Glassman Chipper WOY (workout of the...year?).
Glute-ham Developer (GHD) Sit-ups, Hollow Rocks, and L-Sits.
Rooted in his gymnastics base, Coach Glassman describes the effectiveness of correct hip flexor recruitment, static and dynamic isometric holds, and how stability from the middle of the body works to increase athletic performance.
At Karma CrossFit, we work GHD Sit-ups in to the "CrossFit Warm-up", L-Sits into the Gymnastics Warm-up and Hollow Body Holds and Rocks into skill work.
Aiming at multiple sets of irritation-free GHD Sit-ups, a 2-minute continuous Hollow Rock, and a 3-minute L-Sit from the floor, assess your current ability, and then see where you can integrate these three exercises to whip those abs into better working shape.
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Image used from: http://www.crossfitnorthmesquite.com/2012/01/can-your-dog-hollow-rock.html