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We need to talk about knee lifts. You know that exercise your teacher probably makes you do, hanging from the trapeze bar and lifting up your knees a million times? Are you feeling nothing? Or maybe just wearing out your thighs?
You’re doing them wrong.
This drives me crazy, because it rarely ever gets explained to new students. We’re trying to target those elusive lower abs, so that eventually you can invert (go upside down) easily.
But if you’re just mindlessly bending your knees, you’re wasting your time.
Here’s what I want you to do: right now, as you’re reading, think of trying to push your belly button into your spine. Without holding your breath or just sucking your stomach in. You should still be able to breath normally, but try to push your belly button through your stomach to your spine, and try to hold it there.
Do you feel those muscles that are working?
Hi lower abs!
(By the way, this exercise is great to do when you’re driving or sitting at a desk. Sneaking extra conditioning in whenever we can!)
Okay. Back to hanging from the trapeze bar. Or the lyra. Or the silks. Or your pullup bar. Whatever you’re hanging from.
I want you to think about those muscles you just found, and focus your attention on them. Once again try to pull your belly button to your spine. Those lower ab muscles are what should be initiating your knee lift, not your quads.
At the top of your knee lift, tip your hips back. That should dig into those lower abs even more.
If you’re not sure what I mean, I always tell students to imagine they have a tail coming out of their spine, and trying to pull that tail between their legs. Like a rolled up armadillo.
Do that every time.
This is how your initiate going upside down. Most people think it’s all about throwing your body back, kicking your feet for all you’re worth.
It’s rolling back. That’s how it can be done slowly, with no momentum. It’s how you will eventually be doing these with straight legs, if you aren’t already.
(Crappy quality, I know. But it shows the hip tip, and that’s what you need.)
Do you have a pullup bar at home? (If not, get one!) This is the one that I use. It can be placed in a doorway and is perfect for doing these at home between classes. Plus it’s great for like a million other exercises. Don’t worry, we’ll cover those soon.
If you’re still trying to get your invertions, start with 10 of these a day. Go slow and really focus on the hip tip at the top of the movement. Move up to 15, then 20 a day.
When that gets easy, start straightening your legs into a straddle instead of tucking your knees. Then continue to initiate the movement from your hips instead of throwing your feet up.
For real, guys. It’s all about those hips. Just like Shakira has been telling us all along.