Integrating Your Abs With Movement

Last week, we talked about working all of your ab muscles – upper, lower, side, and deep internal. We also want to practice working those muscles effectively during resisted movements; this is part of “functional” strength training.

Here’s a great core strength or warm-up exercise that helps teach you to “fire” (or activate) your lower abs and pelvic muscles, while moving your arms and legs. (Sound a lot like running or riding?)

First, get familiar with how it feels to activate the lower and internal abs (TA).

The Pelvic Tuck:

  1. Stand with hands on hips. Arch your lower back and stick out your bootie.  This position might be good for dancing to funky beats, but it’s not great for triathlon.
  2. Now tighten your glutes and lower abs, and tuck your pelvis under. Keep breathing. Feel your lower back straighten out. Take another breath, but keep those abs tight.
    If your lower back is very curved (like mine – this is called lordosis of the spine), this might feel unnatural  at first – but strengthening your lower abs like this is especially important for you!Halfway between these two positions is “neutral.” This is similar to how it should feel to exhale while running.

The main exercise – The Dead Bug (or as a client more aptly called it, the Flailing Bug):

  1. Lie on your back with arms overhead, and feet hip-width apart. FLEX your feet. “Pack” your shoulders down into their sockets – don’t over-extend the arms.
  2. Tuck your pelvis about halfway, so your lower back is close to the floor. Keep breathing.
  3. SLOWLY raise 1 arm + the opposite leg toward each other, keeping the foot flexed. Keep the lower back close to the floor. Slowness is key – that’s what makes this one challenging, and trains the right muscles!

Feel the abs and hip flexors working together. If this feels very hard, raise just your (bent) knee instead of your whole leg.

Switch sides. Do 6-8 reps on each side.

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