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3 Must Do Anti-Extension Core Exercises



When you do your next set of squats or overhead presses, I want you to take a little video of yourself. A lot of you will find one thing in common, arching of the lower back. There are many ways of saying this: lordosis of lumbar, hyperextended back or ‘super S’. Frankly, I don’t care what you call it, but it is not a safe position for the spine.


Ask almost anyone if they have had back pain or experience chronic back pain, and 9/10 times the person will say yes. Their reason could be a plethora of things, but that isn’t the point. We want to avoid any risk of causing harm to the lower back because of the amount of stress it experiences. Sitting, standing, sleeping, and/or performing activities with “bad posture” all are examples that can cause stress. Working out is a time to put your body into positions that help, not hurt. And a hyperextended lumbar is most definitely a position that can hurt you. 


So, in this article I outline three exercises to help avoid the hyperextended spine and build resiliency. Anti-extension is exactly what it sounds like, you are going against extension. These exercises are aimed at exactly that, which give you a great anterior core (ab) workout and help avoid an extended position. Before I begin, I just want to state there are many other exercises and variations of the ones I chose; these three are simple, but very effective and I hope they can help you.


Dead Bugs


This is one of those exercises, I find myself implementing into almost every one of my athlete’s programs. Why? The benefits are endless. When it comes to back squats and deadlifts or any other movement, people tend to drift into extension. This is a great exercise to help teach good core positioning.


How to do:

Start laying supine (facing up). Knees and hips bent at 90 degrees. Arms punched towards ceiling. Slowly bring opposite limbs (right leg/left arm or left leg/right arm) towards ground (arm over head and leg extended forward). Bring back to starting position and perform on other side. The entire time you are keeping your head, shoulders, and lower back on floor. If done right, you will feel your abs working. Oh, and let’s not forget breathing! Big breath out as the limbs descend towards the floor really enhances the dead bug!


Benefits:

-Trains anti-extension

-Coordination of limbs

-Enhances shoulder flexion and hip extension


How to implement:

-I like to incorporate into warmup of pair up with a compound lift.

-3-5 sets of 5-10 reps per side 2-4 days per week.


Back-To-Wall Shoulder Flexion


Yes, a lot of words, but a whole lot of benefits. When I see people cranking into extension through the back constantly with any over head movement, this is a great exercise to incorporate. When I talk about over head movements, this can be pressing, swimming, or even throwing a baseball. The beauty of this movement/exercise is it teaches a person how to dissociate shoulder movement from lower back movement.


How to do:

Start with your head, upper back, and lower back on the wall. Your feet should be about 6-8 inches from the wall - yes, you are leaning into the wall. Doing this allows you to use the wall as a reference for the exercise. Lock your arms out by your side and slowly begin to draw two big half circles in front of you. The half circle will start at your hips and finish above your head. You want to reach through your shoulders and fight to keep the head and lower back on the wall. If done correctly, you should also feel this in your abs. Once again, breathe as you go up to help turn those abs on!


Benefits:

-Trains anti-extension

-Enhances shoulder flexion (arms getting over head)


How to implement:

-Mostly put into warm ups and/or with over head movements.

-2-4 sets of 3-6 reps 3-5 days per week.


Stability Ball Roll-Out


Well, if you have done these, you know much much they suck. It kills your abs! Any variation of a roll-out or walk-out is one of the most difficult ant-extension exercises.


How to do:

Start with a stability ball in front of you and your hands placed facing each other on top. Your knees will be placed about a foot away from the ball. Initiate by pushing your hips towards the ball (squeeze glutes!) and allow the arms to slide up the ball as your chest falls forward. Stop once your nose is right above the ball and then reverse movement. Abs will be screaming!


Benefits:

-Trains anti-extension

-Enhances shoulder flexion

-Drives scapulae upwards rotation (wings on upper back rotating up)


How to implement:

-Paired with accessory work due to the difficulty of the exercise or can be main core movement at end.

-2-4 sets of 3-8 reps 1-2 days per week.


There is a trend amongst all of these exercises (other than they are all anti-extension), each one trains the anterior core. The anterior core (front of belly) is what prevents extension of the lumbar! It’s crazy I know. So, if you want a good ab exercise make sure you aren’t arching your back or else you won’t be getting that good burn.


These three have plenty of variations to them. Program according to the person, not the exercise. Feel free to leave your thoughts below!

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