The Secret to Strong Abdominals

by tgiffitness on May 10, 2013

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Ahhhh… I finally did it! 

It has taken me two long years, but I’ve finally uploaded my first video to youtube! No I haven’t been working on this particular video for two years (that would be ridiculous), but it did take me that long to work up the courage to step in front of the camera, record the video, and actually post it to youtube (which, I guess is kind of ridiculous in itself). 

I am definitely not a natural at this video stuff. As soon as I step in front of the camera, everything gets awkward. My husband told me that I would be a terrible actress…well, I think those were actually my words, but he wasn’t in any hurry to disagree with me, lol. This video isn’t actually acting, I’m not trying to pretend anything. I’m simply trying to record the information that I have, for all of you to use!

As awkward as going through this process for the first time was for me, it is an awesome way for me to get really important information to you. The topic of this first video is so incredibly important to your workouts, not only to ensure that your workouts are effective, but to also help prevent injuries, particularly in your lower back.

If you have ever felt pain or irritation in your lower back after a long day or when doing abdominal exercises (crunches, leg lowers, planks, etc.), this video is for you. If you are looking to increase the efficiency of your abdominal exercises, this video is for you. If you are unsure of proper abdominal exercise form, this video is for you! 

So, now you have a choice. You can watch the video, or read the transcript below. This blog post contains additional important information that is not included in the video, so please continue to scroll down.

Video Transcript:

In this video, we are going to talk about what I believe is the key to getting a strong core and strong abdominal muscles. 

Disclaimer: This is not a get a six pack in two minutes type of video. It is about making your abdominal workouts more effective and preventing lower back injuries. Strong abs take work. Unfortunately many people spend way too much time doing useless exercises for their core, that don’t actually work their core. Don’t waste your time! See how this tip is used in a number of different exercises, how it leads to a strong core, and how it prevents lower back pain.

What is the Secret?

The secret is very simple. It is the pelvic tilt. For most people, you wouldn’t do pelvic tilts as their own exercise in your workout, but the movement is still important to be able to do properly to protect your lower back. The movement can also make a significant difference in the effectiveness of your abdominal exercises and can be the difference between doing an ab exercise correctly or incorrectly.

*Regardless of your fitness level, the pelvic tilt is important! 

Start: 

  • Lying on your back
  • Knees bent, feet flat on the floor
  • Arms down by your sides

Movement:

  • Begin the movement by contracting your abdominals, pulling the bellybutton in, and pressing your lower back into the floor
  • The hips should scoop under and just the very bottom of the bum should come off the floor. 
  • Make sure you are not lifting the entire bum off the floor.
  • Don’t forget about the upper abdominals when you are doing the pelvic tilt. You want to make sure that as you tilt, you are contracting the upper abdominals and pulling the rib cage down towards the bellybutton
  • From here you are going to relax back to a neutral spine. You do not want to go passed the neutral spine to where you are arching your back and pressing your tailbone into the floor. This will cause lower back irritation.

Breathing:

  • Exhale on the contraction/tilt
  • Inhale as you release back to a relaxed position

Exercises That Involve The Pelvic Tilt

Not using the pelvic tilt for the following 4 exercises will decrease the effectiveness of each exercise, cause you to use muscles other than your abdominals to complete the exercises, and result in lower back pain.

Ball crunch movement

Start:

  • Sit on top of the ball and slowly walk your feet out as you lay back on the ball
  • The ball should feel comfortable on your lower back, and be in contact with your back from your tailbone to your shoulder blades
  • Keep your head inline with your spine and your elbows back. You should not be able to see your elbows in your field of vision when you are looking straight ahead
  • Make sure that you have a 90º bend in your knees, and that your weight is in your heels
  • Do a slight pelvic tilt to press your lower back firmly into the ball.

Note: If you are not performing the pelvic tilt properly, the ball will cause your back to arch. In this position you cannot use your abdominal muscles effectively, and instead, you will be using your hip flexors to perform the crunch. This can cause irritation in the lower back.

Movement:

  • While holding the pelvic tilt, begin to contract the abdominal muscles to lift your shoulder blades off the ball
  • Keep your head in line with your spine and space between your chin and your chest
  • Your crunch should lift you up towards the ceiling, not in towards yourself
  • The ball should not roll while you are crunching. To keep the ball from moving, make sure you aren’t using your legs to help lift yourself up. Your body should remain still from the waist down

Start:

  • Begin by lying on your stomach
  • Elbows directly below your shoulders
  • Shoulders pulled away from your ears
  • Feet flex so that your toes are curled under

Movement:

  • Start the movement by contracting your abdominals and pulling your belly button into your spine (slight pelvic tilt)
  • Continue this movement as you lift your hips off the ground until your body is in one straight line from your head to your heels

Plank-correction 1

Plank Correction 1

Check your self:

  • Be sure to keep your upper back muscles engaged and the shoulders pulled away from the ears. Your upper back should not be rounded forward
  • Your lower back should be flat. If it is drooping, increase your pelvic tilt and contract your abdominals. Holding the plank with a drooping spine will cause you to feel pain or discomfort in your lower back and will not strengthen your abdominals, but rather your hip flexors. If this problem continues, please see the beginner modification for this exercise
  • Make sure to keep your legs straight
  • Head in line with your spine

Start:

  • Beginners: start from your knees
  • Intermediate: Start from your toes
  • Start with your hands slightly wider than shoulder width, arms straight
  • Keep them inline with your chest/shoulders (Not inline with your head)
  • Contract your abdominals and hold a slight pelvic tilt to keep your back straight
  • Make sure not to dip at the hips
  • Keep your head inline with your spine throughout the entire movement

 Movement:

  • Begin to lower your body towards the floor by bending at the elbows
  • Be sure to pull your shoulders away from your ears, keeping your neck long, and bring your shoulder blades together (towards your spine) as you lower your body towards the floor

End:

  • Exhale as you push your self back up to the starting position
  • Keeping your shoulders pulled away from your ears and your neck relaxed

Start:

  • Lying on your back, hands by your sides, back of your ankles on the ball
  • Keep your legs straight
  • Neck and Shoulders relaxed

Movement:

Hip Lift:

  • Do a slight pelvic tilt by contracting your lower abdominals and press your back into the floor
  • Keep your abs tight as you squeeze your glutes (bum muscles) and lift your hips off the floor until your body is in a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles

Hamstring Curl:

  • Hold that position as you press the back of your ankles into the ball and pull the ball in towards your bum
  • Keep your body lifted as you extend your legs back out until your body is again in one straight line

End of Movement:

  •  Begin to lower your body back down to the floor one vertebrae at a time, by doing a pelvic tilt, press your upper back into the floor first, tailbone touches last

Do’s:

  • Keep your feet fully flex throughout the movement. This prevents your calf muscles from doing the bulk of the work, instead of using your hamstrings.
  • Aim to repeat the hamstring curl portion of the movement 10 to 20 times before lowering your body back to the floor. If you are just starting out with this movement, it is okay to lower your body to the floor between each curl.

 

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Steve June 19, 2013 at 12:14 pm

Great video, can’t wait to see what else you have in store.

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