Sit Ups and Pelvic Tilt
Time and Time again the sit up for abs horror story jumps up in front of me! Here’s something you may find interesting. All Equestrian Athletes strive for a better posture and more impulsion, and most a flatter stomach. So they set off on their journey to get this great core by increasing the number of sit ups they are doing. What they are doing is pulling themselves forward and worsening their seat, making their horse less balanced and making that little bulge bigger .
Well, every time you do a sit up (traditional sit up) you activate your hip flexors. These are the muscles that pull the upper thigh closer to the body. Now there’s nothing wrong with training these muscles to do exactly that, but when it comes to training the abdominal muscles for improved posture, function and flatter stomach there’s far more effective exercises.
The pull of tighter, over active(facilitated) hip flexors (as a result of too many sit ups) results in a pull forward of the pelvis, almost like you are emptying the contents of your torso onto the floor as if you were emptying the bucket of water you washed your car with. This in turn means that now your Gluteals (Bum) become underactive (inhibited). This is a big problem for fat loss because these are a big muscle group that require lots of energy to perform many whole body exercises. If they aren’t’ working then you are reducing the quality and ‘bang for your buck’ that you get from your training.
Now you’ve done all those sit ups, your pelvic alignment has been affected by the over and underactive muscles you have created your seat hasn’t improved, your back pain may have worsened and your stomach looks bigger!
Why? Well you have just pulled everything forward and effectively you have pushed all your internal organs into a position that essentially means they are rammed up against your abdominal wall. This will also mean that you may not digest your food as well.
Indole 3 Carbinol
The big problem with fat loss is that we all deposit fat in different areas and its very hard to spot reduce using exercises. The typical one is abdominal fat that hides everyone’s six pack (yes we all have a six pack!). Now, one of the major reasons we store fat in certain places is where our oestrogen cells are within our bodies. Generally, women tend to have them on the hips, outside of the upper thigh and the back of the upper arm. Men, tend to have them in the chest and abdominal area.
So we know that the exercise specific spot reducing does not work. You simply need to burn total calories, by using all the large muscle groups and elevate your heart rate to a level that requires recovery at a metabolic level, after you finish exercise. I will just say that with correct timings of work and rest you can use specific exercises to reduce fat in certain areas.
You can dramatically improve the fat loss process by adding certain vegetables to your diet. Research has shown these vegetables have a chemical known as Indole 3 Carbinol within them (1). When this enters the acidic conditions within the stomach, it creates an environment which is highly efficient at metabolising oestrogen. We know that the increased testosterone release post resistance exercise is in part responsible for the elevated metabolism post training. So by adding foods that metabolise oestrogen, you have kind of got a buy one get one free situation.
So what to do?
- Eat more cabbage, broccoli, spinach, curly kale, brussel sprouts and cauliflower. Don’t cook for more than 9 minutes or you can lose up 20-50% of the nutrients that you need.(2)
- Focus on plank positions for both anterior (front) and posterior (back) core musculature. Balanced core is massively important for your tall, strong riding position. Not to mention that flat stomach look. Remember there are two sides to that Core!
- I have found that working on activating the glutes (buttocks) pre workout to get them fired up before you ask them to work, results in excellent posture and core strength! Using Clams, side lying hip abduction and superman’s seems to do the trick very nicely
GET FIT FOR PURPOSE! GET FIT TO RIDE!
- Fahey JW, Zalcmann AT, Talalay P. The chemical diversity and distribution of glucosinolates and isothiocyanates among plants. Phytochemistry. 2001;56(1):5-51.
- McNaughton SA, Marks GC. Development of a food composition database for the estimation of dietary intakes of glucosinolates, the biologically active constituents of cruciferous vegetables. Br J Nutr. 2003;90(3):687-697