Tuck Your Chin To Make Your Abs Work Better

This simple tip is key to helping you in pursuit of flatter, better functioning abs.

Just take a look at the guy doing push ups at the local gym and you’ll probably see his head reaching the floor light years before his chest. Or maybe even the little old lady in the supermarket. You know, the one who’s head you saw about 10 minutes before the rest of her body appeared round the aisle. This is known as ‘forward head posture’ and has a big impact on what’s going on below.

When the head’s jutting out in front, your brain increases the signals to your neck and lower back to help stabilise your head (If you weigh around 80kg your head probably weighs around 5kg). When there’s an increase in neural drive to the muscles on the back of the body there’s a decrease in the strength of the signals being sent the muscles on the opposite side – the abdominals.

Forward Head Posture

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That means no matter how many sit ups (or planks) you do, if your head is too far forward your brain will never allow your abdominal muscles to work as well as they could until your body is in better alignment; with your head sat in line with your shoulders.

(just a quick note – crunches and sit ups actually make forward head posture worse. So even though they make your abs feel like they’re working as soon as you stand up with poor posture your brain just switches your abs back off again).

A forward head is often coupled with a hollow back. And as the pic below demonstrates, a hollow back makes even the smallest of bellies stick out. Not a good look for those in pursuit of a flatter stomach!

Hollow back = sticky out abs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Putting into practice:

A simple step to making sure your abs are working properly is to stand tall with your head sat back in line with your shoulders instead of ‘turtling’ out in front.

"Did he just call me a turtle!? I'm clearly a tortoise"

 

And in the gym? Next time you’re doing a plank if you want to shut down your abs just crane your neck to look up. If you want your abs to work harder and to create more stability I recommend packing your chin into your neck, making a double chin (it’s OK, if you’re in a plank position you’ll be face down and no-one will see 🙂 ).

This goes for all the exercises you do, but the plank is probably the one I see most people with a poor neck position. If with any exercise you’ve got a crease in the back of your neck then your not quite there yet.

Summary

Instead of chin waggin’ try a little chin tucking. It’ll go a long way to helping your Abs do their job in supporting your spine, keeping you pain free, oh… and keeping you looking good!