Q&A: Core training and the “draw in”

I got an e-mail from a newsletter reader about this article titled “Is your ab workout hurting your lower back?”:


In a nutshell it calls the whole idea of drawing your abs in into question. You should certainly read the article as it is actually very well written and explains where the idea cam from and why it may not be the best idea.

Here was my response:

I totally agree. I will say that when you have someone with weak lower abs that distend out you still want to direct them to “draw their abs in” but only so that they get back to neutral. That is why I do use some draw in exercises in the UMWP because most riders have that weak and distended low abs thing going on.

But I do think that “bracing” is better than drawing in. I tell people in my facility to lightly draw their belly button in and to lock their rib cage down to their pelvis. This gets the entire core engaged and ready to work. Brace and then move is the key.

People tend to overreact to things in the short term and under react in the long term. This is a prime example – while the fitness industry certainly overreacted when the info first came out you don’t want to throw it all out now. Drawing in has a place, it just isn’t the ultimate ab exercise we thought it might be at one time.

-James Wilson-

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WordPress Comments:

  1. Cy says:

    Hey James,

    Thanks so much for your quick, clear, and useful answer to this question (and a few others I’ve emailed). I have to admit I was initially hesitant to drop cash on a program I found online, but the UMWP has been awesome and your helpful responses to my random questions make it even more worthwhile.

    By the way — here’s another NYT story that shows just how ahead of the curve your approach is: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/06/24/can-you-get-fit-in-six-minutes-a-week/?em

    …no one I tell about your approach to intervals really buys it, but I can vouch for the results (since I don’t have tons of time for long rides but can hang at the head of the pack almost any time I do get out for a long one).

    Reply • June 26 at 11:28 am

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James Wilson
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Mountain Bike Coach
James Wilson