As many of us have heard, it is important to strengthen our core musculature. By now we have heard this concept told to us by, trainers, doctors and other health professionals as well as seen many products advertised to us on how to strengthen this area. They are right that most of us need core strengthening, but where do we start?
The most obvious place to start training is our abdominals. A few crunching exercises done at 3 sets each for 20-30 reps is where most people will begin. This is okay, but many times we are overworking our upper abdominals and neglecting our lower abs. Now, there is controversy over whether or not you can really the work lower abdominals (lower rectus abdominis) specifically, but most of the research shows that you can focus more on lower abs when doing a lower abdominal exercises like the reverse crunch. Many times these exercises are done incorrectly causing compensations by the hip flexors or the upper abdominal muscles. This is typically the cause of weak lower abs.
The lack of strength is a result of underuse from bad posture, improper ergonomics, and current or past injuries. One of the most common injures that weakens the lower abdominals and the core musculature are lower back injuries. Many of use fall into one of these categories and have weak lower abs as a result. A common result of strengthening general core musculature, are fading injuries back injuries.
Most simply put, the lower abdominals are responsible for bringing your pelvis towards your chest. You can activate these muscles right now by just simply by thinking of tucking your tail bone slightly underneath you. Practicing this will allow you to communicate properly to your lower abdominal muscles and increase functionality.
There are many lower abdominal exercises, but I like to start clients off with a basic reverse crunch on the floor. In a reverse crunch you are bringing your pelvis in the direction of our chest and always focusing on maintaining “tight” activation in the lower abs. It is extremely important to focus on activating these muscles or we might cause our upper abs and/or hip flexors take the load.
In addition to the Reverse Crunch, other common lower abdominal exercises include:
Be sure to choose exercises where you can maintain activation and control of your lower abs. Also, once these exercises become easy, make sure to increase the difficulty so you are continually increasing strength. After doing the same exercises 3 times a week for 2-3 weeks, move on to a more difficult exercise or progress to a more difficult version of your current one.
Get to it and you might be surprised how much stronger and healthier you will feel in just a few weeks.
Located on 744 San Antonio Rd. Suite 2 Palo Alto, CA 94303 Breakthrough Personal Training. Expert Personal Trainer Serving Palo Alto, Los Altos, Mountain View, and Menlo Park. Weight Loss, Optimal Results, Post-Rehabilitation, Injury Prevention, Nutrition, Downtown San Jose Bootcamp, and Fitness Services.
Jerry Yuhara, CPT, CES, CMT #75123
4193 El Camino Real
Palo Alto, CA 94306
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