Draw In & Squeeze!

Bridges & planks effective only when you draw in and squeeze

Push-up prep: draw in and squeeze

To maintain a bridge position: squeeze!

Single leg exercises or seated lat pull-down: keep that navel drawn in!
All photos by Lauren Bachner

Welcome to the last Workout Wednesday in June!

Whatever your workout includes today or any day of the week, I wanted to share two important cues that apply to virtually every exercise ranging from bridges to barbell cleans: draw in and squeeze. I say these four little words so many times during a session, my clients think I should just put them on a t-shirt and save my breath. So, what exactly do the cues mean?

  • Draw in signals activation of the “drawing-in maneuver.” This simple step involves drawing in your belly button toward your spine in order to stabilize your pelvis. (Go ahead, you don’t need to be at the gym to give it a try!)

This action ultimately activates the core muscles needed for stabilization. For you anatomy buffs out there, the six core muscles that fall into the stabilization category are: Transversus Abdominus, Internal Oblique, Lumbar Multifidus, Pelvic Floor Muscles, Diaphragm and Transversospinalis. Many studies indicate people who do not focus on stabilization of the core before strengthening the muscles that comprise the core’s movement category (e.g. Rectus Abdominus, External Obliques, Erector Spinae) can suffer from lower back pain. The research shows this happens because of unwanted motion of the individual vertebrae.

The benefits of the drawing in maneuver, however, reach beyond the core itself. That’s because the benefits of having a strong core reach far beyond the mid-section of your body. Remember, the core is the center of gravity for the body and the origin of all movement. Comprised of the lumbo-pelvic-hip complex and the thoracic and cervical spine, if the core is unstable or weak, the entire kinetic chain will be thrown off thanks to muscle imbalances. That’s when compensations occur and ultimately, you end up being a prime candidate for injury. It boils down to this: a strong core sets the stage for a strong body overall.

  • Squeeze is the one-word directive for contracting the glutes.

The glutes are some of the most powerful muscles in the body, but  most people simply don’t get enough glute work on a daily basis. For the purpose of this post, we’ll assume you’re doing all you can on the flexibility front to avoid compensations by overactive muscles that prevent the glutes from “firing” as they should. Now whether you’re moving on to “traditional” circuit training or a push-up Tabata derby, you want to make sure you keep the glutes engaged in your workout.

Remember, if the glutes don’t get to function as the prime mover on exercises like squats, not only does the butt-kicking exercise become pretty much ineffective for your tush, you’re also putting yourself at risk for low back pain and potential injury.

Don’t underestimate the impact a couple of simple steps can make in your fitness routine. Like so many other parts of life, it’s the little things you do when you workout that can help you have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

About LauraLovesFitness

After spending more than 10 years in the communications industry, this lifetime fitness lover and newly certified fitness professional wants to share my passion for health and well-being with others.

Posted on June 27, 2012, in Fitness, Health and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. It is so important to remind ourselves about proper form! When certain exercises become “routine”, it is easy to forget the little details that make them effective! Thanks for a great post 🙂

    • Hi Taylor! Many thanks for taking the time to check in. Yes, it’s amazing how the little things can mean alot when it comes to making sure we make the most of our training program. We want to avoid becoming lazy and ultimately putting ourselves at risk for injury. Hope you’ve having a great Workout Wednesday!

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