The Tuck

The Lotte Berk Tuck is the common known name for this concept in any bar based, isometric workout.

I wanted to dedicate a little post to this concept because of the trouble it causes to many exercisers new to isometric or bar based workouts.  These workouts pose no problem to people who are dancers or have dance backgrounds.  But I very rarely ever hear anyone, sometimes even dance instructors, explain the concept properly.

The locus of all your movement, all your strength generates from the core, your abdomen.  Most of us get lazy habits as we grow older.  Which is why you will see children start out with such beautiful posture but as they age, the posture degenerates.  This degeneration is NOT due to spinal problems although it may feel like it.  It is entirely due to letting the abdominal muscles become weak.  How?Well when we think of posture, we automatically think of the spinal column.  Many of us think that straight posture comes from straightening the spine.  Hence we try to pull ourselves up by the spine, putting all our upper body weight onto it.  Eventually that weight rests solely on our lower spinal column causing back pain.  The spine is not the focus for good posture.  It is the abdominal muscles supporting the weight by using the spine as a fulcrum.

Now to the tuck.

The wrong assumption about posture is invariably carried over into the Lotte Berk tuck concept.

When exercisers complain about the tuck causing back pain, this is what they are doing wrong.

They are tucking using their spinal column plus locking the glutes to hold it in place.  If you keep doing that, there is no wonder why your back would hurt.

So here we go by tucking the correct way...feel the difference.

1 - Stand up

2 - Keep your feet straight ahead, hip distance apart.  Slightly bend the knees.

3 - Now, tighten your lower abdominal muscles and you will feel the tuck occur naturally.  You will feel the muscles stretch and tighten through your hips, lower tummy and your upper abdominal muscles.  If you are doing it correctly, you will also feel a decompression in your spine that feels wonderful.  Because your spine is no longer bearing the brunt of your weight.  Also your gluteus muscles should not be locked.  Neither should your knees or your legs feel locked.

ETA:  Don't suck in your gut.  You are concentrating on tightening the lower abdomen muscles only.  In fact if you are doing the movement correctly you will see the fat layer stick out a bit.  Also don't worry about looking fat.  You are naturally straightening enough to offset the shifting of this layer.

Now this will be hard for people new to the concept and have weak abdominal muscles.  But you have to keep practicing it.  Even while standing at the bus stop or taking your lunch break.  Practice the tuck movement.  Although you may feel as if you have your tail between your legs like a puppy, no one else will see it.  As your abdominal muscles get stronger, the more you will feel the correct way to practice this movement.  It will also feel as if the lower abdominal muscles are a girdle supporting and holding your organs and weight with your spine being free and flexible.

Relax.

Now try it the incorrect way that almost everyone uses when new to the exercise.

1) Stand

2) Feet straight ahead, hip distance, bend the knees.

3) Tuck by curling your lower spine.  It will be almost impossible to hold your spine this way.  So the fall back will be tightening your gluteus maximus muscles to hold the spine in the curl.  You will feel the spine curled under with growing strain as it struggles to keep the curled position.  Your buttocks will be tight and the stretch will be felt in the thighs.  Eventually this will cause the thighs to over develop.  The spine will be stiff as it tries to hold the position and support your weight.  The stomach muscles will be totally slack.

The proof.

1) Do the Tuck correctly, now do a twist movement.  Your spine will have full range of motion with the support in your stomach.

2) Do the Tuck incorrectly.  I would be very surprised if you are able to twist at all.  The spine will feel frozen in place.

Once you get this concept down, there should be no pain in the back at all from isometric, bar based workouts like Physique 57, T-Tapp, Lotte Berk, Callanetics etc.

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