Lower Ab Activation Drill: Knee-Ups

Ever wondered why your lower abs won’t show? Why your butt and stomach stick out? I know I did for years, at one point I even had a clearly defined 4-pack sitting on top of a pouch and it baffled me.

The solution to a growing list of issues including this one, is proper posture.

An anterior pelvic tilt refers to the top of the pelvis rotating forward. This compromises healthy spinal alignment, as well as pulling the lower abs into a position from which they are of little or no use. The group of muscles referred to as the Hip Flexors are primarily to blame here and they often inhibit proper core function when they are too strong, tight and immobile. For most of us, strong, tight hip flexors are a reality because of how we live, how often we sit and even how we workout!

Stretching & foam rolling the hip flexors and quadriceps can help to lengthen them and contribute towards a neutral alignment, but often times lengthening the hip flexors isn’t enough. We also need strength in the lower abdominal muscles if that portion of the muscle has been underused for so long.

This exercise is popular among chiropractors and well respected for it’s postural benefits. It has also helped me as well as countless clients of mine to breathe, walk and move better.

Speaking of breathing, it is the centerpiece of this drill. A full, deep and long breath will give you the maximum benefits and train your core for optimal function. Keep exhaling throughout the rep until you have fully dispelled every last bit of air, inhaling again through your nose as you return to starting position. The diaphragm plays a huge role in all core activities and improper breathing will render this exercise almost useless. See my video on diaphragmatic breathing if you find the breathing aspect of core exercises to be the toughest part!

Take note of the illustration below and realize just how long your abs really are! Most people imagine they are much shorter until they actually point out the bottom and top of the Rectus Abdominis on their own bodies (go ahead, try it!). When you do the exercise in the video, visualize the bottom portion of your abs working as hard as it can, funnel your focus into recruiting the abs as low as you can, pumping that portion full of blood and energy which will lead to a better mind-muscle connection. It’s not about how far you can get your butt off the ground, or if you can even get your butt off the ground in the first place; it’s about recruiting your lower abs and making sure they’re responsible for this motion. As long as you’re feeling the burn low on your abs, you’re doing it right, so focus and amplify that burn. Pair this visualization technique with the breathing mentioned above and you’ll be acquainted with your lower abs in no time!

Rectus Abdominis
Rectus Abdominis