Sick of your low back constantly feeling sore after working your abs? Sick of feeling it during leg lowers, sit ups and even planks? Heck….maybe you’re even just looking to strengthen your core after pregnancy or injury!
Then you need to learn how to properly engage your abs using the Pelvic Tilt!
There are lots of ways to learn how to engage your core. Many different “bracing techniques” and each can be beneficial, especially in different circumstances. But when you want to make sure your abs are working and your low back isn’t taking over during core work, one of your go-to moves should be the Pelvic Tilt.
So what is the Pelvic Tilt?
This exercise is very simple but can be key to learning how to engage your abs. To do the basic variation of the Pelvic Tilt, lie on your back on the ground with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. You’ll feel a space between your low back and the ground. Take a deep breath then exhale and press your low back into the ground.
You should no longer feel the space as you draw your stomach down toward your spine.
That right there is the basic engagement using the Pelvic Tilt. You can hold for a few seconds then release and repeat.
You can also progress this basic move by adding in marches, knee tucks, single leg lowers or even double leg lowers. Just make sure as you progress the move that your low back doesn’t start to take over. If it does, regress back down.
If you’ve ever jumped straight into leg lowers and had to put your hands behind your back and butt to help prevent your low back from aching, you’ve simply put a bandaid on the problem. You aren’t actually correcting it OR truly training your abs to get stronger. Which is why the basic Pelvic Tilt is so key.
Instead you need to REGRESS the move so that your abs can learn to stay engaged using the pelvic tilt as you ask them to brace against more challenging variations and compound movements.
Another great way to use the Pelvic Tilt is with the Plange Plank, especially if you struggle to really get your abs working or constantly feel your low back taking over.
To do the Plange Plank, start in a plank position from your forearms and toes with your feet together and your elbows under your shoulders. Make sure your body is in a nice straight line from your head to your heels. Flex your quads and then begin to draw your stomach in toward your spine, slowly rounding your upper back as you tuck your hips under.
Draw your abs in as if trying to “cough up a hairball.” Try to tuck your hips under toward your ribs as you round up. Do not simply stick your butt up in the air. Also, make sure to keep your elbows under your shoulders.
Hold here trying to engage your core as hard as possible. If you do this correctly, your abs should almost instantly start to shake. You should be engaging your core as hard as you can.
This is a great way to really make the plank work your abs more in less time!
By learning how to start engaging your abs during these basic core moves, you can then progress to other bracing techniques and strengthen your core to prevent injury and help you lift more and run faster!
Cori is the owner of Redefining Strength, a functional training facility in Orange County, California focused on helping each client find their strong. She started training and writing a fitness blog in 2011 because she wanted to empower people through diet and exercise so that they can lead healthier, happier lives.