Six pack abs are more useful than showing off at the beach. The abdominal muscles provide stability to the spine and the entire upper body. The phrase, “'lift with your legs, not with your back” is worthless is if your spine is not supported by the other muscles in your body. A US Army study found that the soldiers who were able to perform the most sit-ups during their initial standard fitness tests were 5 times less likely to suffer lower body injuries. Learning how to strengthen your abs and teaching yourself to keep your back straight when lifting will lower your risk of pulling a ligament or damaging a disc.
To best illustrate the proper technique for a supported spine you will want to stand straight up and be sure not to slouch. Push your gut and pelvis forward while contracting the abdominal muscles. You should feel slightly more support in the lumbar area of your back. Maintaining this posture when lifting will allow your spine to stay in its most supported position. This may take some time to master as your muscles may not be used to this type of movement. With repeated use your brain will retain the muscle memory and naturally prevent injuries. You can use the following exercises and stretches to build muscle memory and strengthen your core.
Lying Hip Thrusts: Lay down in the sit-up position with your feet flat on the floor. Thrust your pelvis into the air while leaving your shoulders and feet in contact with the floor. Do as many repetitions as necessary and trying holding this position for extended periods of time.
Crunches: Lay on the floor in the sit-up position. With your feet and butt firmly on the floor role your shoulders blades off the ground and try to touch your chin to the ceiling. This exercise can easily be done every day at home or at the office.
Squats: Squats are one of the best ways to improve your balance and strengthen your core. Using only your body weight, stand with your feet shoulder with apart. Push your pelvis forward and tighten your abdominal muscles. Lower yourself as if you were sitting in a chair maintaining this same posture. Remember to keep your butt out and chest proud. Your weight should be in the heels of your feet and your knees should not extend passed your toes. You can add weight when you feel comfortable with the technique.
Stretching 1: While on all fours arch your back up and down as if you are mimicking a scared cat or a cat ready to pounce.
Stretching 2: Lay flat on the floor and push your upper body off the ground while leaving your hips in contact with the ground. It should look like you are impersonating a seal.
Remember to always consult your physician before preforming any exercises. Additional training and strengthening guides can easily be found with a simple internet search. The most important thing is to always use proper techniques and the right tools such as the Lift’n Buddy to ensure that your body stays in great shape for years to come.
Thank you for your time and attention. Let’s make it safe this Monday.