Having mastered superman on the swiss ball, alternate leg lowering is a good progression in learning how to engage the lower abs. The short video clip shows the exercise. There are some key points to remember:
- Keep everything above the navel – including head, neck, shoulders and tongue completely relaxed.
- There is no breath holding
- The low back is relaxed into the floor. If there is too much lumbar arch to get the low back onto the floor then lie over a rolled up towel – and get some work done to release out the tight hip flexors.
- As the legs move, the low back and the hips do not move at all. Keep the back of the ribs pressed into the floor.
- It will help to place the fingers on top of the hip pointers -the sharp bits at the front of the hip bones. Keep your hip pointers facing straight up to the ceiling whilst the legs lower and lift.
What this exercise teaches is that the back and hips do not move when the legs move, so this has great impact upon walking and running. Hips wiggling about when walking or running lead to hip, knee or ankle pain and/or to back ache. So this exercise helps us learn how to stabilise the hips using the low ab muscles.
Now I have taught this exercise for many years and anybody eating wheat finds it impossible to do. It is not that they can’t keep their back still, it is just the amount of effort it takes to do this. When this exercise is done properly, effort level will be barely 2 out of 10, with 10 being maximal effort. Breathing is effortless, the face does not go red, the abs are not rigid, the upper abs feel relaxed. When it comes to low ab engagement, less is more provided the inner unit can actually contract. Click on the link for further explanation. Also look in the page How To Exercise and click on the link to The Core.