For those of you who’ve been trained by yours truly, hearing me say – or yell – the following should be annoyingly familiar:

“Arch your lower back!”

“Ok fine, push your belly towards the floor…”

“Hmm… Stick your bum out!”

I’ve even pushed my forearm down onto the spines of my clients while they’re doing rows in an attempt to forcibly produce the arch. (No sexual harassment lawsuits yet thank goodness.)

Not too rounded, not too arched... just right Photo credit: fitnessgurls.com
Not too rounded, not too arched… just right
Photo credit: fitnessgurls.com

 

So here’s what I realized at my friends ‘n family event last Sunday.

I got a great turnout. The studio was packed with both new and familiar faces. Since it was only an hour long, I only got to spend a few minutes training everyone individually.

What I observed scared me.

Some people out there are physically unable to arch their back. Never mind twerking. Even if the $40 mil jackpot were at stake. Their bodies literally cannot do it.

Their spines have become so deformed that they stayed rounded no matter what cues I gave.

How is it supposed to look?

The natural shape of the spinal column is a subtle “S” curve.

The spine pictured is facing left:

spine anatomy
Photo credit: thebetterwayback.org

The curve starts to change from being convex (rounding out) to concave (arching in) around midway down.

Of the new faces that came last Sunday, most could not give me that porn star doggy-style arch. I’m one of those trainers who get so excited about good form that I clap and yell and shoot over a thumbs up. And I get equally distraught about poor form, and on Sunday I was crying inside and wishing I had more time with everyone.

Do a quick assessment of your own posture right now. I bet you’re sitting as you read this:

  1. Is your back rounded?
  2. Are your shoulders slumping forward?
  3. Can you feel your sitting bones on your chair?

If you answered YES to the first two and NO to the third, chances are your low back arch is missing. Great efforts will need to be made to find it.

You up for the challenge?

I hope so, unless resembling the Hunchback of Notre Dame is on your bucket list.

If you love her, let her go Photo credit: a.dilcdn.com
Photo credit: a.dilcdn.com

Here Kitty, Kitty, Kitty

Now that we’ve determined you have room for postural improvement, let’s take some steps to fix it and get a twerk-worthy back.

Push your sitting bones back

You have a bony point at the base of each buttcheek called an “ichial tuberosity”. A tuberosity is a rounded point. Sexy, I know.

Press both butt tuberosities firmly against your seat. Doesn’t that sound titillating and frightening at the same time?

To make sure you properly plant your bony butt points in the right place, also…

Push your belly forward

This naturally causes your low back to arch.

However, it doesn’t stop there…

Suck in and brace your core

Another one of my favourites. “Suck in your core” is like my daily mantra. I say it so often that I’m sure my clients have tuned me out by now.

There’s a lot of controversy in the fitness industry on whether sucking in – “hollowing” – or bracing – aka. stiffening – is better for core stability.

I say do a bit of both. Hollow out the abdominal cavity by expelling air from the diaphragm, and stiffen up all the muscles in your torso as though someone is winding up to slug you in the stomach.

Make this a part of your everyday routine – no scratch that, everyday LIFE. Learn to flex different parts of your body for fun. You know those guys who can make their pecs dance?

Yeah, do that. With your lats in your back, your shoulders, your quads, everywhere!

You don’t have to put on a show for anyone. But giving your muscles some TLC on the constant with regular contracting helps with blood flow and strengthening your muscle cells.

How can I get my LBA back?

It’s best to have someone watch your form as you perform this exercise. What feels normal to us doesn’t necessarily mean we’re using the proper technique.

Hex Bar Squats

The Hex Bar – or Trap Bar – may look intimidating at first.

Photo credit: continentalsports.co.uk/
Photo credit: continentalsports.co.uk/

However, its bizarre shape is actually superb at guiding your hips and low back into the correct positioning as you squat down.

Better than the regular Olympic bar actually.

That’s because you need to keep your hands at your sides. This requires your spine to stay straight as you rise and descend.

Check out this video on how to do Hex Bar Squats.

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