Everyone wants to get rid of their “pooch.” That lower abdominal region that seems impossible to get rid of. People often turn to lower abdominal exercises to help strengthen their core.
They get on their backs, put their hands under their butts, and lower and lift their legs down to the floor. Sound familiar?
I will guarantee that when you walk into a group exercise class, over half the people will have their hands under their butts. (Count next time and let me know!).
But did you know that by putting your hands under your butt, you are NOT getting stronger? That “pooch” isn’t going anywhere.
Then why do so many people do it? Sure, it gets rid of your lower back pain or helps you lower your legs, but it is not making your abdominals any flatter and stronger.
Here is a quick anatomy lesson:
The rectus abdominus (think “six pack abs”) is mainly responsible for flexion, just like a basic crunch. During this movement, the lower back (lumbar spine) can press into the floor. The opposite motion of this would be extension, where the lower back lifts off the floor.
When abdominal exercises are performed, like the lower ab exercise called leg lower, the rectus abdominus often fatigue quickly. When this happens, extension occurs and the lower back pops off the floor.
The “fix?” Putting your hands under your butt to help stay in flexion and keep the back flat to the floor. Great solution, right?
You are cheating. It’s like bumpers at bowling. It makes it easier, but you aren’t getting better…. Or in this case, stronger.
What should you do?
Simple. Put your hands by your sides. The wider the hands, the more support. Another simple fix, only lower your legs to a height at which you can keep your back on the floor. Even better, do one leg at a time! Once you can maintain your lower back on the floor, gradually start to lower the legs. By doing this, you will be efficiently using your abdominals and actually get STRONGER.