#13 TVA and Sway Back Posture

If you possess Sway Back Posture (rounding in the front shoulders and a posterior tilt in your pelvis) then your TVA, (transverse abdominis) the deepest layer of your core is underactive. To strengthen this area of your abdomen you must first understand what to avoid.

No crunches or sit-ups

While crunches and sit-ups are excellent exercises for people with Lordosis they are not good for those with Sway Back Posture. The reason they should be avoided if you possess this posture is that they recruit the rectus abdominis (outer layer of the abdomen). The rectus abdominis is overactive in Sway Back Posture.

What to do instead?

Exercises to explore with Sway Back Posture to target the TVA will always include stability devices. I’d suggest purchasing a small Pilates antiburst ball and a long foam roller. You will have endless options for the TVA with these two pieces of equipment. Since the goal is to gain strength and balance your body, commit to a series of exercises on these stability devices. Lift your dominant leg only for the first set (1 minute) and this will work the non-dominant side of the abdomen. Then, for the following sets use both legs. A set is 8-12 slow reps or 1 minute.

Alignment

  • As you work on strengthening your TVA, work with your pelvis in either an anterior tilt (arched) or neutral (not arched or tucked).
  • Secondly, plug your shoulders down your back, so that the lats are accessible.  This will allow you to simultaneously build your shoulder and spine stability.
  • Lastly, breathe. Inhale to prepare and exhale on the effort pulling your belly button in towards your spine and lifting in and up on your pelvic floor muscles (the muscles that stop your stream of pee) to contract your transverse abdominis (the deepest layer of your core) which protects your lower back.

For specific TVA exercises for Sway Back Posture, visit YouniquelyFit's Instragam or book a complimentary consultation today.

#12 Psoas and Flat Back Posture

If you have Flat Back Posture (an overactive back chain with a posterior tilt in the pelvis) your psoas is underactive. Before you can begin strength work for these muscles you must stretch them. They are often incredibly tight from the seated posture we assume everyday. To stretch your psoas, grab a chair and sit sideways in a supported lunge. Lift your back arm up bringing the bicep up to your ear while simultaneously bending your torso toward the chair into lateral flexion. Hold this stretch for a full minute on each side.

Alignment

After you have stretched out your hip flexors (psoas muscles) you can then begin strength work. Here are some notes to give yourself as you set up for each set of your selected exercises: 

  • Make sure your pelvis is in an anterior tilt (arched, or tipped back). This will allow you to find your psoas without recruiting your overactive gluts and hamstrings.
  • Once you have the pelvic position you can begin your strength exercises.

Get to work!

Select three different exercises for the psoas. Spend one minute doing unilateral (single leg work) on your non-dominant leg and then one minute using both legs for each exercise.  If the exercise must be executed unilaterally, do twice as many sets on the non-dominant side. Repeat this unilateral and double leg psoas work for 2 to 3 sets. A set is one minute, or 8-12 slow reps.

Take your time.  

Inhale to prepare and exhale on the effort pulling your belly button in towards your spine and lifting in and up on your pelvic floor muscles (the muscles that stop your stream of pee) to contract your transverse abdominis (the deepest layer of your core) which protects your lower back.  

For specific psoas strength exercises, visit YouniquelyFit's Instragam or book a complimentary consultation today.

#11 Strength training and Kyphotic Lordotic Posture

Strength training and Kyphotic Lordotic Posture

I’d say 80% of people I train have either Kyphosis (rounding in the front of the shoulders), Lordosis (an anterior tilt in the pelvis), or both. Strength training is incredibly important to improve functional movement and prevent injuries with a Kyphotic Lordotic posture.

What muscles should I focus on?

If you possess Kyphotic Lordotic Posture (KLP) you will want to place your attention on strengthening the calves, lateral sides of the feet, hamstrings, gluts, the TVA, internal and external obliques, the rectus abdominis, the upper back extensors, and the neck flexors.

How often should I do strength training?

I recommend a minimum of 3x a week, to a maximum 6x a week. Be sure to also incorporate flexibility work to release the tight quads, psoas, pecs, low back, scalenes and neck extensors. With regards to repetitions, this is how I train both myself and my clients: I do unilateral work on my non-dominant side for a full minute (or a slow set 8-12 reps). Then I repeat the exercise using both legs or arms, etc. If the exercise must be performed unilaterally, then I do twice as many repetitions on my non-dominant side.

Alignment

With KLP you want to work with a posterior tilt (tuck under) in the pelvis to turn off the overactive psoas and quads and simultaneously open the tight low back. Once you have worked this way for awhile you can begin to work with a neutral pelvis (not tucked or extended). However, please note that substantial strength in both the abdomen, gluts, and hamstrings must be gained before progressing to working with a neutral pelvis. In addition to becoming aware of your pelvic position, you will also want to keep the shoulders from elevating by engaging your lats, which attach under the armpits. To do this plug your shoulders down your back. Lastly, breathe. Inhale to prepare and exhale on the effort pulling your belly button in towards your spine and lifting in and up on your pelvic floor muscles (the muscles that stop your stream of pee) to contract your transverse abdominis (the deepest layer of your core). This will not only flatten your abdomen, but also protect your lower back.

For specific strength exercises for KLP, visit YouniquelyFit's Instragam or book a complimentary consultation today.

#10 Glut Max/Min and Sway Back Posture

If you possess Sway Back Posture (rounding in the front of the shoulders and a posterior tilt in your pelvic position) the glut max and min will be under active. This is due to the overactivity in the rectus abdominis, hamstrings, and calves.

Flexibility before strength work

In an effort to recruit the weak gluts it’s important to take 1-3 minutes to stretch out the abdomen, hamstrings, glut med, piriformis, and hip flexors. This way they won’t fire and take over the strength work you should be delegating solely to those weak gluts.

Strength for the glut max / min

Begin by selecting a series of specific exercises to strengthen the gluts. Work on all 4’s, prone, supine, side lying or standing. I find that unilateral work helps you achieve balance in the body at a quicker rate. Begin with single leg glut work using your non-dominant side. Do one-minute, 1 full set, which is 8-12 reps. If possible, depending on the exercise you selected, do your next set with both gluts working. If the movement must be done unilaterally, then do twice as many reps on the non-dominant side.

Alignment Notes

  1. As you work on strengthening your gluts, work with your pelvis in either an anterior tilt (arched) or neutral (not arched or tucked).
  2. Plug your shoulders down your back, so that the lats are accessible.  This will allow you to simultaneously build your shoulder and spine stability.
  3. Breathe. Inhale to prepare and exhale on the effort pulling your belly button in towards your spine and lifting in and up on your pelvic floor muscles (the muscles that stop your stream of pee) to contract your transverse abdominis (the deepest layer of your core) which protects your lower back.

For specific glut exercises for Sway Back Posture, visit YouniquelyFit's Instragam or book a complimentary consultation today.

#9 Flexibility work and Flat Back Posture

Improving your flexibility if you possess Flat Back Posture (an overactive back chain and neutral or posterior tuck in the pelvis) plays an important role in injury prevention.

What muscles need to be stretched?

If you posses Flat Back Posture you will want to spend time stretching the calves, hamstrings, IT band, gluts, piriformis, lats, and neck extensors.

Static stretches can be held for 1-5 minutes, and for a deeper release, couple these with foam rolling and trigger ball work to further loosen the fascia. If you work behind a desk or are sedentary for a good portion of the day, you will also want to stretch the hip flexors.

When to stretch?

My suggestion would be to stretch your hip flexors before you begin working out. These muscles will need to be strengthened, but must be stretched beforehand to safely begin building muscle. As your body warms up and you do strength work appropriate to this posture, you can simultaneously weave in stretches and rolling for the calves, hamstrings, hips, glut med, IT Band, lats, and neck extensors.

How long will it take for my flexibility to increase?

If you commit to 1-5 minutes per stretch on each side during all of your workouts and both pre and post sports training, you will see a discernible difference in your flexibility within weeks.

2 for 1

I’m always looking for ways to accomplish more in a shorter period of time. Stretching gives you the perfect opportunity to work on your Pilates breathing, which contracts the transverse abdominis (the deepest layer of the core). This not only gives you a flat stomach, but it also protects your lower back, which can be vulnerable to injury due to the overactivity and tightness of the back chain. For a deeper understanding of how to do Pilates breathing, please read Blog #3. 

For specific ideas of stretches, foam rolling, and trigger ball work, visit YouniquelyFit's Instragam or book a complimentary consultation today.

#8 Lats and Kyphotic Lordotic Posture

The lats are weak if you have Kyphotic Lordotic Posture (rounding in the front of your shoulders and an anterior tilt of the pelvis). This is due to the overactivity in the pecs and anterior delts. In an effort to strengthen the lats you should begin with flexibility for the pecs and shoulders and strength training for the upper back extensors.

Flexibility to combat Kyphosis

There are numerous stretches to open the pecs and shoulders that can be done lying, seated, against a wall or standing. You can also incorporate trigger point work or foam rolling. My favorite chest opener is lying supine on a foam roller with your arms in cactus/goal post position. Hold for 1 - 5 minutes. Gravity takes care of the rest!

Strength for the upper back extensors

Begin by selecting a series of specific exercises to strengthen the lats, posterior delts, and serratus anterior. Work on all 4’s, prone, supine, seated, standing and/or on the knees. I find that unilateral work helps you achieve balance in the body at a quicker rate. Begin with single arm work using your non-dominant arm. Do one-minute, 1 full set (8-12 reps). Then, if possible, depending on the exercise you selected, do your next set with both arms working. If the movement must be done unilaterally, then do twice as many reps on the non-dominant side.

Alignment Notes

As you work on your upper back extensors and pec/shoulder flexibility apply these alignment notes:

  1. Work with your pelvis in either a posterior tilt (tucked under) or neutral (not arched or tucked).
  2. Plug your shoulders down your back so the lats are accessible and you can build up your shoulder and spine stability.
  3. Breathe. Inhale to prepare and exhale on the effort pulling your belly button in towards your spine and lifting in and up on your pelvic floor muscles (the muscles that stop your stream of pee) to contract your transverse abdominis (the deepest layer of your core) which protects your lower back.

For specific exercises, visit YouniquelyFit's Instragam or book a complimentary consultation today.

 

#7 Crunches and Sway Back Posture

Crunches are to be avoided if you possess Sway Back Posture (kyphosis and a posterior tilt in your pelvic position). Crunches or chest lifts, recruit the rectus abdominis (the outer layer of the core) and the upper fibers of the rectus are overactive with Sway Back Posture. It’s for this reason you should avoid crunches and focus on strengthening the transverse abdominis, external obliques, and internal obliques.

What can I do for my abs if I can’t do sit-ups/crunches?

This is a great question. The answer is: a lot! If you have Sway Back Posture, I’d advise investing in a small Pilates anti-burst ball, light set of free weights (1-3 lbs), and a long foam roller. These three tools will give you endless possibilities of ways to work the TVA and internal obliques. The external obliques can also be worked, as I mentioned in more depth in blog #5, lying supine with the knees on the foam roller, seated or standing.

What should I focus on when doing abdominal work with Sway Back Posture?

The first area to check is your pelvic position. Make sure you are working in a neutral pelvis or with an anterior tilt (an arch in the low back). This will begin to correct the constant posterior tilt of the pelvis. Secondly, make sure the shoulders are plugged down the back. This will allow you to increase shoulder stability and lat strength. Lastly, breathe. Inhale to prepare and exhale on the effort pulling your belly button in towards your spine and lifting in and up on your pelvic floor muscles (the muscles that stop your stream of pee) to contract your transverse abdominis (the deepest layer of your core) which protects your lower back.  

For specific exercises, visit YouniquelyFit's Instagram or book a complimentary consultation today.

 

 

 

#6 Quads and Flat Back Posture

Flat Back Posture is an overactive back chain and posterior tilt in your pelvic position. If you have Flat Back Posture, the quads (the front of your thighs) will be underactive.  This is due to the overactivity of the hamstrings, gluts, calves, and the IT Band. It’s important with Flat Back Posture that you not only stretch out the overactive tight muscles in the back side of your body, but that you also strengthen the front body.  The quads can be strengthened standing, seated, or lying down.

First: pelvic position

If you have Flat Back Posture, work with an anterior tilt in the pelvis (an arch in your low back). This will turn off those overactive gluts and hamstrings and allow you to turn on the quads and psoas.

Second: get to work

Select three different exercises for the quads. Spend one minute doing unilateral (single leg work) on your non-dominant leg, and then one minute using both legs for each exercise, if seated or lying.  Repeat this unilateral and double leg quad work for 2 to 3 sets. A set is one minute or 8-12 slow reps.

Take your time.

Inhale to prepare, and exhale on the effort pulling your belly button in towards your spine and lifting in and up on your pelvic floor muscles (the muscles that stop your stream of pee) to contract your transverse abdominis (the deepest layer of your core) which protects your lower back.  

For specific exercises, visit YouniquelyFit's Instragam or book a complimentary consultation today.

 

#5 External Obliques and Sway Back Posture

The external obliques assist with lateral flexion (side bending). These outer side muscles of the abdomen are underactive if you have Sway Back Posture (kyphosis in the upper body and posterior tilt of the pelvis, which leads to overactive hamstrings and underactive psoas/gluts).  

How to combat Sway Back Posture?

Training the external obliques can help you stand upright and alleviate back pain, while also  fighting kyphosis. Lateral flexion can be done against a wall, seated on a chair or stability ball, or lying down.  As your strength increases, add resistance (weights) to the exercises you select to target your external obliques.

First: pelvic position

Before you begin exercising your external obliques, it's important that you understand the position your pelvis should be in if you have Sway Back Posture. This position is either a neutral pelvis or an anteriorly tilted pelvis (arched low back). A neutral or anterior tilt in the pelvis will allow you to turn off your overactive hamstrings and IT Band and turn on those underactive psoas muscles and external obliques.  

Second: get to work

In regards to strength training for your external obliques, my suggestion would be 3-4x a week.  Select three different exercises, then go through the exercises doing two sets on your non-dominant side, and one set on your dominant side. A set for me is one minute or 8-12 slow reps.

Take your time.

Inhale to prepare, and exhale on the effort pulling your belly button in towards your spine, and lifting in and up on your pelvic floor muscles (the muscles that stop your stream of pee) to contract your transverse abdominis (the deepest layer of your core) which protects your lower back. Another imperative cue to incorporate is keeping your head between the shoulders, on your spine, while keeping the neck long and simultaneously plugging down your shoulders (away from the ears).  

For specific exercises, visit YouniquelyFit's Instragam or book a complimentary consultation today.

 

#4 Gluteus Maximus and Kyphotic Lordotic Posture

The gluteus maximus is an underactive muscle if you have Kyphotic Lordotic Posture (rounding in the front of the shoulders and an anterior tilt in your pelvic position). The reason for this anterior tilt (which causes a noticeable arch in the low back), is the overactivity of the psoas and quads and under-activity of the abdominal muscles.

How to train the glut max with Lordosis?

The most important thing for a Lordotic client to remember to do when executing glut max exercises is to work in either a neutral or posteriorly tilted pelvis (tucked under). This will allow the psoas and quads to release so the gluts can fire. I preferred a posterior tilt when I first began training my gluts with Lordosis. But, after years and more awareness of the internal lift in my pelvic floor muscles (TVA), I have found that training them with a neutral pelvis, which I strive to maintain in my day to day life, is preferable.

In regards to strength work for your glut max, my suggestion would be 3-4x a week.  Select three different exercises for this muscle group. Spend one minute doing unilateral (single leg work) on your non-dominant leg, and then one minute using both legs for each exercise.  Repeat this unilateral and double leg glut max work for 2 to 3 sets. A set is one minute or 8-12 slow reps.

Take your time.

Inhale to prepare and exhale on the effort, pulling your belly button in towards your spine and lifting in and up on your pelvic floor muscles (the muscles that stop your stream of pee) to contract your transverse abdominis (the deepest layer of your core) to protect your lower back.  

For specific exercises, visit YouniquelyFit's Instagram or book a complimentary consultation today.

 

#3 Transverse Abdominis and Flat Back Posture

The transverse abdominis, the deepest layer of your core, is imperative to train if you possess Flat Back Posture (an overactive back chain and posterior tilt in your pelvic position). The reason being is that the TVA (transverse abdominis) will protect the lower back from being injured.  

How do you train your TVA?  

Use a stability device such as a foam roller or stability ball to help your TVA fire and use correct Pilates breathing.  To learn how to execute proper Pilates breathing try this: sit in a comfortable position with one hand on your rib cage and the other on your belly button. Inhale through your nose and direct the air to both your side body and back body, not your belly. Then, pull your navel toward your spine and lift up internally on your pelvic floor muscles (the muscles that stop your stream of pee) and exhale all the air out your mouth, while simultaneously sustaining this internal lift of the pelvic floor muscles. Make sure your exhale is audible and it sounds like you are fogging up a window or warming your hands with your breath.

Have lower back pain?

If you have lower back pain, this simple breathing exercise to strengthen the TVA can be done in bed before you get up, or at the office when you have been seated for long periods of time. I recommend ten sets taking five counts to inhale and five counts to exhale the air out, maintaining that pelvic floor lift.

For other specific TVA exercises, visit YouniquelyFit's Instagram or book a complimentary consultation today.

 

#2 Psoas and Sway Back Posture

The psoas, often called the hip flexor complex, is an underactive muscle if you have sway back posture. The reason for this is the overactivity in the hamstrings and IT band. While the psoas is underactive for Sway Back Posture, I want to emphasize before discussing strength training for it, that 99.9% of the time for all people the psoas is incredibly tight. Tightness in the psoas is connected to sitting for long periods of time. It’s for this reason you should always stretch the psoas out on each side for 1 minute prior to beginning your strength work.

In regards to strength work for your psoas, my suggestion would be 3-4x a week.  Select three different exercises for this muscle group. Spend one minute doing unilateral (single leg work) on your non dominant leg, and then one minute using both legs for each exercise.  Repeat this unilateral and double leg psoas work for 2 to 3 sets. A set is one minute or 8-12 slow reps.

Take your time.

Inhale to prepare and exhale on the effort pulling your belly button in towards your spine and lifting in and up on your pelvic floor muscles (the muscles that stop your stream of pee) to contract your transverse abdominis (the deepest layer of your core) to protect your low back.

Another imperative note to abide by when working the psoas with Sway Back Posture is to work with either a neutral pelvis or an anteriorly tilted pelvis (arched low back). A neutral or anterior tilt in the pelvis will allow you to turn off your overactive hamstrings and IT Band and turn on those underactive psoas muscles.

For specific exercises visit YouniquelyFit's Instragam or book a complimentary consultation today.

#1 Hamstrings and Lordotic Posture

If you notice an anterior tilt in your pelvis (your lower back arches), this denotes weakness in the hamstrings. This is due to the overactivity of your quadriceps and psoas.  Whether your goal is to improve performance in a sport or activity, increase range of functional movement, or to build balance in the body to prevent injury, individuals with Lordosis need to work on their hamstring strength, both medially and laterally. Lateral hamstring work will be imperative to improve pronation (the rolling in of the feet) which is often a result of Lordosis.

Many of my clients ask how often they should do strength work for their hamstrings. My suggestion would be 3-4x a week. In regards to reps, I’d select at least three different exercises. Spend one minute doing unilateral (single leg work) on your non-dominant leg, and then one minute using both legs for each exercise. Repeat this unilateral and double leg hamstring work for 2 to 3 sets.  A set is one minute or 8-12 slow reps.

Take your time.

Inhale to prepare and exhale on the effort pulling your belly button in towards your spine and lifting in and up on your pelvic floor muscles (the muscles that stop your stream of pee) to contract your transverse abdominis (the deepest layer of your core), and to protect your low back.

Another imperative note to abide by when working the hamstrings with Lordosis is working with either a neutral pelvis or a posteriorly tilted pelvis (tucked under). A neutral or posterior tilt in the pelvis will allow you to turn off your overactive psoas and quads and turn on those underactive hamstrings. 

For specific exercises visit YouniquelyFit's Instragam or book a complimentary consultation today.