In the previous post we went over the abdominals and how they function, and some exercise to train the abs. Human life is based on gait and upright activity, (ie walking). It is good to train the abdominals while lying supine (on back) or in a side position or anything on the ground, but the end goal is to get you to upright activity and move from side to side and be able to keep the abs engaged and functioning so they can properly rotate the rib cage to one side or the other. As we take a step forward with our right foot our hips rotate to the left and on top the trunk rotates to the right, the left EO/IO obliques rotates the ribcage to the right and the right abs helps rotate the pelvis to the left. As you can see the abs are functioning on the hips and the thorax at the same time and the ability for them to contract is key to function, performance and posture while performing exercise, lifting, running, cycling etc. The ability to sense and train the abdominals in an upright position is the approach we want to take. Start by standing feet hip width apart push the feet through the floor, slightly tuck your hips under you and exhale fully. You should feel your ribs drop towards the hips and the ab walls engage. That is your new upright ab position. The next progression is adding some resistance to the movement.
Due to our design the right ab wall is stronger due to the position of the liver and make up of the lungs and diaphragm on the right side of our body. Taking this into consideration in upright activity we want to engage the left ab wall first to ensure that the right side does not become dominant the whole time in all movement patterns, if that happens we can see an imbalance of ab wall recruitment and movement deficiencies. If we allow the right ab to be the dominant ab it causes the thorax to orient more to the right, the right rips depress lower than the left and the left will be elevated and externally rotated, if we stay oriented and lateralized to the right and perform a squat we will see a shift in body weight to the right. How can the left abs stabilize the spine and lower back if they are not in a position to work? It can lead to overuse and tissue injuries and decrease of longevity and health. First step when we get upright is the ability to sense the left ab wall turn on, to balance out the thorax, once that is accomplished we can then perform anti-rotation and rotation exercises.
Anti-Rotation exercise teaches the body to resist rotation through the thorax, trunk and the hips, trains the abdominals to lock the rib cage down to the hips and gain isometric strength against increasing loads. A great exercise is the pallof press performed for 10-12 reps per side for 2 sets, training the obliques to anchor the thorax and perform appendicular movement and keep position. After you have increased the resistance on the anti- rotation exercise the next place to go is rotation, this is where all people need to get and be able to perform movements with correct abdominal engagement and body rotation. Rotation movements trains the abdominals to rotate the trunk and hips to the opposite side, so if you are performing right rotation the left obliques are turning the ribs to the right and vice versa, we can take our position that we have in the pallof press, shoulders hip width apart as we turn to one side you should feel the contralateral (other side) ab wall contract to turn the trunk and the ipsilateral (same side) ab wall lockdown to hold position of the ribs and hips on the side you are rotating to. These exercises are my go too, they are badass, they train the abs like no other. I firmly believe they should be incorporated daily in warm ups and in workouts to always prepare the brain for rotation and anti-rotation movements.