Ab Tip #2

Posture & abs:


STORY time!

When I was a young girl I vividly remember my dad one day calling me out on having bad posture. I was sitting crouched over playing. Now as most kids who look up to their parents….we are quite gullible. My dad was not a huge joker, so I believed everything he told me, even if fable. In fact, I remember when I was about 5 years old, my dad told me if I ate watermelon seeds and dirt, I could grow a watermelon in my tummy.

Anyways, back to the storyline. My dad said, “If you aren’t careful and you keep up that bad posture, when you get old you will look like a hunchback.” This was around the time of the Disney Movie “Hunchback of Notre Dame” and all I could think was… “Wow, I really don’t want to look like Quasimodo!” SO what did I do? I literally told myself I was going to have perfect posture and began to watch my posture in class (4th grade). Over a short course of time, sitting with perfect posture became normal. I am forever thankful for that smart remark, even though I know now that bad posture in earlier years doesn’t guarantee a hunchback in our prime.

Over the years I’ve had teachers, employers, co-workers, friends and strangers compliment me on my posture. People usually ask if I'm a dancer.  This good posture has allowed for a strong and tight core. I’ve had visible abs since around age 9 or 10 and I fully believe good posture has played a large role.

There is science behind the correlation of good posture & abs. A lot of the facts may seem rather obvious, but nonetheless, they are worth reminding ourselves of.

What is (good) posture?

Posture is the position in which you hold your body upright against gravity while standing, sitting or lying down. Good posture provides the least amount of strain on your body.

Posture is a reflection of a person's overall health, fitness and confidence. Posture often times draws attention to our strengths and weaknesses.

WHAT happens during good posture?

Your abdominals naturally tighten and are “engaged”. Engaged means your abdominal muscles pull towards your spine. Letting your stomach hang freely often contributes to a sagging, slouchy appearance. Standing or sitting up straight is a great way to engage your ab muscles to exercise your core on a daily basis. 

  • GOOD posture will help get rid of stomach "pooch".
  • Good posture affects the entire CORE. 
    • Core is not just our abs, but also includes back, hips, glutes & pelvis.
Abdominals need good posture, but good posture also needs abdominals.

Additional benefits to good posture:

  1. Less pressure on muscles & joints- Less headaches and muscle aches, less negative affects of aging. Also prevents premature disc degeneration. 
  2. Healthier spine- Good posture= strong abs and strong abs can take 40% off spinal load when lifting
  3. Look skinnier- Many say it makes you look on avg. 5lbs leaner when you sit or stand with good posture (Tummy is in tight, clothing fits better, don’t look lazy)
  4. You look/feel more confident- Ever heard the quote on success that says “No matter how you feel, get up, dress up, show up” ? When you force yourself to have good posture, you will feel more alert and professional and less sluggish. It will naturally boost your confidence and you will look much more confident with those open shoulders!
  5. Lower Cortisol- Good posture, an opened up body posture, is proven to reduce stress and when stress is reduced, cortisol drops. Cortisol manages appetite and weight. Lower cortisol will prevent us from adding extra lb’s to our lower belly.
  6. Better breathing- Opened up shoulders and chest = better oxygen flow. You will be taking deeper breaths from your abdomen, not shallow ones from your chest.
  7. Easier digestion & blood circulation- No slouching means less pressure on our organs- no undue compression. 

Test your ab strength: Try it out!

  • Sit upright in your chair, pull your shoulders back and point your chest upright. As you do this you will feel a gentle pull on your stomach and your lower back. These gentle pulls signify using and strengthening your core muscles. This is also a good test of how strong you are.
    • If you get tired within 5 minutes, you need to focus on having better posture and should begin doing daily core exercises to build your abs and lower back. It will prevent injury and aches and pains in your body. 
    • If you can hold this position for hours on end, wow! You are in fantastic shape and really have a strong core! Keep up the good work and make sure your posture reflects how strong you are! Don’t be a fit person with poor posture outside the gym. 

Proper posture for strong abs:

Standing: Hold your chest high and keep your shoulders back and relaxed. Engage your abdomen. Distribute your body weight evenly over both of your feet, with your knees in a relaxed and unlocked position. Your feet should be parallel, as much as possible!!! DO not lean on one leg. THIS proper posture is called an athletic stance.

Sitting: Sit with your back straight, your chest up, head level, shoulders back and engage your abdomen. Knees should make a 90 degree angle to the ground. If they do not, your chair is too high. Most put their buttox all the way to the back of the chair. I would disagree with this. I believe it can weaken your back; giving it a reliance on the chair. I prefer to sit on the edge of my seat.

Action step:

  1. Be more aware of your posture daily.
  2. Challenge yourself to switch to sitting on a yoga ball at work or to sit on the edge of your chair, where you cannot easily slouch or rely on the chair to support you. (I've used a yoga ball the past 7 years and love it.)
  3. Tell a co-worker you're working on your posture and tell them to hold you accountable when they walk by.

**You may be very sore at first**

TIP: Ween yourself into sitting on a yoga ball or edge of your seat by sitting like so for 30minutes then switch to a chair and go back and forth. Over time you will be strong enough to sit with proper form all day long! AND you will see the change in your TUMMY too!