Hips Don’t Lie: Understanding Pelvic Tilt for Greater Strength Gains
Hip control and mobility is a game changer when it comes to athletic endeavors, performance, and even plain old health. It takes a fair amount of practice to master even the basics of pelvic or hip tilt, so we hope this helps you get started now, for function and relief tomorrow!
To the well-trained eye, the way someone's hips look can say a lot about their body. Even more telling is the control someone has of the tilt of their hips. If you have no idea what we’re talking about, you're going to love what these drills do for your future workouts. Keep reading to learn the basic principles, drills, and purpose behind pelvic (hip) control.
Quick Anatomy Lesson: APT vs. PPT
Anterior and posterior pelvic tilt are the two key hip positions we want you to get a real feel for in this article.
Anterior pelvic tilt (APT) is simply tilting the front of the hips forward, which inevitably raises the back of your hips.
Posterior pelvic tilt (PPT) is the opposite motion, where the front of the hips rise and the back of the hips drop.
Depending on the exercise or stretch, achieving proper form may depend on your ability to adjust your hips into one of these positions. For example, during a plank hold, it is best to maintain PPT. While squatting, APT is ideal. GymnasticBodies training is filled with different body positions like this and the reasoning is as much for your physical development as it is for your safety.
During squats, especially when they are weighted, maintaining APT (a forward pelvic tilt) is one of the key ways that you can protect your spine and ensure you are properly loading your legs. You’ll build more strength while remaining injury free.
Another excellent example is handstand development since PPT is strongly tied to control and efficiency in a handstand. While in a handstand, maintaining PPT (a backward pelvic tilt) is going to help keep your back from arching and ensure your core is keeping you stable and strong during the hold.
The best way to understand pelvic tilt is by feeling it and working the two distinct motions. Use the following exercises to get a tactile understanding of your hips and controlling their tilt.
These drills from our Handstand Courses will strengthen your whole body and challenge your core!
Feeling Pelvic Tilt: Exercises for Pelvic Control
One of our favorite introductory drills for feeling the difference between APT and PPT is performed lying flat on your stomach. Place your arms by your side and find a relaxed, natural starting position.
Now, keeping your upper body relaxed, try to simply lift your behind into the air, arching your lower back. This is what APT feels like.
Next, engage your abs and glutes. You should feel your lower back flatten and your hips press into the floor. You’ve now achieved PPT. Nice work!
For the next drill, flip over onto your stomach and again find a relaxed starting position. This time, to achieve APT, simply arch your lower back. You should feel your bottom press down into the floor and your ribs begin to stick out. If you can fit your hand between the small of your back the floor, you’ve achieved a strong anterior pelvic tilt. Practice moving back and forth between the two positions for 60 seconds before advancing to the next exercise.
Achieving PPT while on your back again requires ab and glute engagement. Your goal is to eliminate any space between your spine and the ground. Squeeze your abs, drawing through your bellybutton, “flatten” your ribcage, and squeeze your glutes. If air remains between your lower back and the ground, keep practicing! Again, spend a minute on this drill before putting your hip control to the test with this next drill.
Challenge Your Core, Control Your Hips
This last set of pelvic tilt drills is going to challenge your brain and body to work together as you move between APT and PPT while supporting more of your bodyweight. We’ll be performing another minute of practice in a slightly more challenging position to build up your core, shoulders, and full body control all at once!
You have three starting position options:
Beginner: Kneeling, with your hands and knees on the floor.
Intermediate: In a straight arm plank position.
Advanced: In a belly-to-wall handstand.
Your goal is to transition between a flat back (PPT) and an arched back (APT), again, for one full minute. Practice these drills regularly and even consider including them in your workout routine.
Need extra help developing control and strength in these positions? Our online courses will get you there! In return for your hard work, you’ll notice you more easily find the proper body position during activities, whether they be daily tasks or athletic endeavors.
Learning to control your pelvic tilt is an essential step in any strength training journey; GymnasticBodies hip mobility and positioning is key in your core and handstand training, and will give you greater mastery towards full athletic success!