A Deep Dive Into Abdominal Training
I'm back again to talk about the ever so desired "abdominals!" I continue to discuss this group of muscles because they are a necessity for proper pain-free movement, yet they are usually poorly trained. The good news is that the tips that I am discussing in the article/video should be utilized throughout any abdominal workout as well as any exercise. So, if you understand these concepts, you should be able to optimize your workouts through proper movement execution!
1. Rib Cage Position: Imagine a tire on a car that is slightly off center. What happens? It may continue to sub-optimally work, but wear and tear is produced until eventually it breaks down enough for it to stop working. If you knew the tire was out of position, you would fix it so that the alignment was correct and the tire would work efficiently and last the appropriate lifespan. Well, the same example goes with the rib cage. Chances have it, your rib cage is "out of position" prior to beginning your exercise. Are you going to fix the problem or leave it and create unnecessary wear and tear on the system? I hope you pick the former by facilitating a proper exhalation to create internal rotation of the rib cage. The exhalation results in an abdominal contraction to allow the ribs to drop into this "down and in" state. As they do so, they are now at a biomechanical advantage to properly stabilize the rib cage. Now when you are performing your abdominal exercises, you put the system in an overall better position to be appropriately challenged while minimizing wear and tear. In addition, due to the attachment of the abdominals, you now have the ability to effectively stabilize the pelvis.
So, are you wasting time if you are training your abdominals without being in the correct position?
2. Pelvis Position: The same story holds true at the level of the pelvis. Through a proper exhalation and rib internal rotation, we want the pelvis to roll back into a position of a posterior pelvic tilt. This will naturally flatten the lumber spine and promote further abdominal activation. Once this is achieved, it needs to be maintained. This created and maintained position needs to be appreciated for any exercise. Without it, when you lose the rib cage or pelvis position, you are compensating. For example, if you are performing a dead bug, as the leg descends the pelvis position can not be lost as a source of momentum generation. If it does, the exercise is too challenging and needs to be appropriately regressed. Furthermore, if we are allowing this desynchronization to occur, we are instilling faulty movement patterns in our athletes. As a result, this will show up almost every other exercise. Ever wondered why some people just can't get stronger?
As a side note, the synchronization of the rib cage and pelvis allows optimal breathing strategies to occur through proper facilitation and inhibition. Ideally, the athlete is able to appropriately breathe during these exercises and it should be of importance to make sure they do not hold their breath.