Have you ever gone to a workout class and done a million ab repetitions and thought to yourself "I'm going to have a 6 pack in one week at this rate!"
...until you wake up the next morning with a sore neck and a pissed off low back, and absolutely zero soreness in your abs.
For most people, this scenario has happened at least once if not multiple times. And it's really discouraging.
Learning the principles of how to engage your core is a game-changer for ensuring your workout is put to good use, and ensures you'll experience both the aesthetic as well as the biomechanical benefits from the time you put into it.
Here's my go-to trick for relaxing the neck while doing ab work:
1) Lay on your back with your legs bent, and your hands behind your head.
2) Relax your hip flexors as much as possible.
4) On your exhale, curly your head and shoulders off of the floor until your shoulder blades are off of the floor. Hold. Can you relax your head into your hands? Ask your abs to carry the weight of your head rather than your neck and shoulders. Use the weight of your upper body as leverage to cue your abs to hold you up.
Here's my go-to trick for relaxing the low back while doing ab work:
1) Repeat the same exercise as above, except this time practice doing this exercise in imprint.
2) "Imprint" is when you scoop your low belly in as if to draw your low back towards the floor. Engaging your pelvic floor muscles will help you to activate your transversus abdominals which help to create a deep, flattening action in the low belly. These transversus abdominals are the missing link in relieving low back pain.
Remember, go slow, move consciously and be patient with yourself.