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Ab Rehab- The Headlift

Beginning in Week 4 of the Ab Rehab Program you perform headlifts. The headlift is THE crucial exercise in the Ab Rehab Program, as it shortens the recti in all 3 locations:
  1. Top of the muscle when lifting the head.
  2. Middle of the muscle when bringing transverse to the spine
  3. Bottom of the muscle with the pelvic tilt
It is imperative to execute the exercise properly, and believe me that is not easy to do! Therefore, the physical pre-requisites for the headlifts are:
  • Strong transverse muscle. Must be doing 5oo reps of seated contractions for at least 3 weeks
  • Doing a pelvic tilt in a back lying position correctly
The pelvic tilt is not achieved with the hips; rather, through the abdominals with a visualization. Remember, this is the foundation of the headlift as it is the first 3 steps of the headlift. Here is how to perform the pelvic tilt in a back lying position:
    1. Expand the belly to 1st floor
    2. Bring JUST the transverse to spine (5th floor). Dont use pelvis or back to do it
    3. Now HOLD IT THERE as you visualize the belly button zipping up the spine under the ribs. (Spine is zipper and belly button is pull on zipper)
  • Note that headlifts become harder by bringing feet further away from buttocks
Provided you meet the physical requirements to properly perform the headlift, here are the steps:
  1. Expand the belly to 1st floor
  2. Bring JUST the transverse to the spine and HOLD IT THERE
  3. Visualize the belly button zipping up to spine to the ribs
  4. Pull the splint, relax the arms
  5. Visualize the ribs coming together
  6. Bring the chin in
  7. Belly button goes out the back as the head is lifted (yes) and count out loud
  8. Transverse stays at 5th as head goes back to floor.
* As with seated contractions in week 4, hold an external splint on the upper, middle and lower part of the recti with each set of headlifts to enhance closing of the separation at all points. You will double splint this exercise.

In my experience the biggest challenge with the exercise itself is the contraction out to 6th and then holding the transverse to 5th. You may feel your recti come forward, and if you do the exercise is not being executed properly. Focus on achieving the contraction out to 6th with your posterior transverse muscle rather than your naval. Visualize squeezing your back muscles. It is necessary to be spotted by a trainer when learning the headlift exercise, so that you can be taught how to determine if your form is effective.



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