Okay…I’m stumped on this one. And I’ll willing to chalk this up to still being fairly new as a trainer. One of my clients has a very weak lower back and lower abdominals. In an effort to build these areas and strengthening them I have her doing the “superman” for lower back and then lower abdominal work that involves supporting her lower back by placing her hands under that area. However, even with her back supported she is still feeling discomfort and can’t complete reps…i’m lost on how to strengthening these specific areas when the exact moves used to strengthen her lower abs and core are causing discomfort due to weakness (i’m in an endless loop). My apologies if I’m missing something obvious, believe me i’m reading and studying and reading up and perusing work out programs…but would very much value some input and suggestions here. Thank you in advance!
You’ve received some great ideas so far, both in assessment and in exercise selection.
When you write “superman,” do you mean lying prone, tightening core, and then lifting both the feet and the hands at the same time? There is a lot of compression force on the low back with this particular move, so if this is the movement you are using, I have a few cues and progression ideas for you.
1) Every time I do a prone exercise, I ask the client to do three things. First = pull their belly button in and up, like they’re trying to lift their belly button off the mat. Second, tighten their glutes medially (towards each other). Third, press the glutes down towards the floor slightly and hold pelvis stable. It’s like a mini posterior pelvic tilt, but really what I want them to do is avoid excessive anterior pelvic tilt when they lift their legs, so I pre-stabilize the pelvis.
2) Lift two limbs at a time rather than all four. I like the combination of right arm + left leg, hold pause, then switch.
3) Another thing to consider, since your client can do a V-sit easily (rectus abdominis and hip flexors), is that maybe the deep core needs more work and the rectus is taking over. One way that I help my clients get this concept of engaging deeper into the core is to have them lie supine, place hands on their belly, and then do a crunch. The should feel the rectus tighten right away. Now, I tell them to keep the rectus soft (hand still on belly), and draw the belly button down and in, which takes engagement of the transverse abs (TA). The transverse abs take a little more work to engage. So when I tell my clients to set their core, I teach them first how to be aware of and contract the TA, and then to set the core by engaging the pelvic floor and TA first before beginning any other movement.