Band Seesaw - Standing Ab Exercise
How to Do the Standing Band Seesaw Core Exercise | In-Depth Guide [VISUAL LEARNERS]
Proper Form & Common Mistakes | Home Resistance Training
VIDEO TUTORIALS HEREWRITTEN TUTORIAL + IMAGES BELOW
MAIN MUSCLES WORKED IN the Standing Band Seesaw
Erector spinae & Transverse abdominis
OTHER MUSCLES WORKED:
- Quadratus Lumborum
- Latissimus Dorsi
- Upper Back Muscles (Mid trap, Rhomboids, Rear Delt)
- Gluteus Maximus
WHAT & WHY
BENEFITS OF TRAINING THE Core muscles
WHAT WE'RE DOING TODAY
ALL WE'RE DOING:
Holding a band, we'll raise our arms high in the air & bring them low
FULL BODY WORKOUT
The Standing Band Seesaw exercise is a great exercise for improving upper body strength, core stability, balance, and coordination. This is an advanced core exercise - a full-body workout - using the muscles of the feet all the way to the neck. You should be very familiar with activating the muscles to hold the spine in a neutral position (the Bird Dog & Dead Bug core exercises are good for learning this), and also be able to do a good hip hinge movement (learning the Romanian Deadlift is good for this) before trying this one. The movement begins in upright standing. As you hinge forward, you pull the hands back between your legs. Reversing the movement, you straighten back up and lift the hands overhead. The spine is moving from a vertical position into a horizontal position - this will increase the downward pull of gravity and the muscles on the back of the body will contract to prevent you from falling forward, or the spine from sagging down.
Adding arm movement will not only make the back muscles work harder, but it also challenges your motor control and works the upper back and arm muscles.
I love this because many training programs, especially home ones, have difficulty focusing on the muscles of our backside as well, in part because of the difficulty in getting our bodies into a position where these muscles will be challenged.
This exercise works our back extensor muscles, specifically what’s called our erector spinae- a group of muscles that lie alongside either side of our spine - these muscles work to keep our back from rounding in 2 ways with this move:
- At the top of the movement, the band is pulling us forward, so the muscle work to counteract that to prevent our spine from rounding
- As our torso moves downward, gravity starts to pull at our torso & the muscles have to work against gravity to keep the spine from rounding as well.
It is helpful to note that all of the muscles that hold the spine in a neutral position will be active, but the muscles on the backside of the body will be challenged more than the abdominal muscles.
WHY DO WE EVEN CARE?
WHAT’S TO LOVE ABOUT EXERCISES FOR YOUR BACK
It is pretty common for the muscles on the back side of the body to be weaker, and even neglected in workout programs. The classic symptom of weak posterior muscles is poor posture - slouched forward, flat lower back, standing with locked knees, rounded shoulders, and even the head leaning forward. This position puts a tremendous amount of strain on the spine. When you stand up nice and tall, the ligaments, joints and muscles of the spine can maintain the position with very little stress. But with poor posture due to weakness of the back side, the weight shifts forward, and the stress on the ligaments, joints, and muscles increases. This can be very fatiguing to the body. Moving becomes more difficult and over time, the stress on the support structures of the spine can become damaged and less effective.
Anytime that we lift, carry, push, or pull items in front of us, the muscles on the back of the body must work harder to hold us in the safest, most effective, and most efficient position possible. The See-Saw movement trains the muscles of the core to stabilize the spine during movements of the hips and shoulders under load (band or dumbbells). The role of the trunk is to provide a stable base of support for the arms and legs to work from. When you hold the spine still in a neutral position, all of the muscles need to work together. When you add arm and leg movements, the muscles need to make continuous changes to accommodate the changing forces because of the movement.
Strengthening the muscles on the back side of the body will improve your ability, and increase the safety of doing other strength training exercises like deadlifts, squats, and overhead presses. Although the focus of this movement is the muscles on the backside of the body, all of the muscles that hold the spine will be working together, this includes the muscles on the front of the torso, the transverse abdominis, and the obliques. As the resistance increases, more muscles will be getting involved to hold the torso still.
This exercise also works the hip extensors (gluteus maximus, adductor magnus, and hamstrings) and the shoulder flexors (anterior deltoid, biceps, pectoralis major, coracobrachialis).
EVERYDAY LIFE &
HOW WE USE OUR Core MUSCLES IN EVERYDAY LIFE
1. THE MUSCLES OF THE BACK, UPPER BACK, LEGS (FROM THE NECK TO THE FEET), AND ARMS NEED TO WORK TOGETHER TO HOLD OUR SPINES STABLE DURING:
- Painting walls with rollers and brushes
- Hanging string lights- anything where you are having to reach & move arms up & down and away from in various ways
- Washing windows
- Lifting objects (especially heavy objects from the floor and overhead)
- Carrying heavy objects in front of you
- Laundry - especially heavy WET laundry- like sheets & your hubby's thick work pants!
- Folding heavy blankets
- Carrying in firewood
- Putting firewood in the stove
- Moving patio furniture around
- Pushing a wheelbarrow
HOW Band Seesaws SHAPE OUR BODY
Nice upright posture, graceful movement, toned waist. Toned buttocks and shoulders.
This movement should be smooth and continuous - like a See-Saw, hinging forward and pulling the arms down, standing back up, and lifting the arms overhead. Don’t worry if, in the beginning, you need to break it down into steps. Focus on the large ball and socket joints of the hips and shoulders doing the work. The knees will bend as you hinge forward and straighten back up, but still soft with a slight bend, at the top of the movement.
The movement begins in upright standing, holding a band that is anchored in front of you. As you hinge forward, you pull the band back between your legs. Reversing the movement, you straighten back up and lift the hands and pull the band up overhead. Adding the arm movement with the resistance of the band will not only make the back muscles work harder but will also challenge your motor control and works the upper back and arm muscles.
If you are having trouble getting the rhythm of the movement, try it without using the band in the beginning. If you have any restrictions in your shoulders or upper back, you don’t need to lift your arms all the way up overhead, just stop where they feel comfortable.
PROPER FORM: Band core Seesaw
EQUIPMENT, SETS & REPS
Main set (3: Light/Med/Heavy):
X-Heavy Band (I recommend getting this too if you plan to use resistance bands frequently).
SUGGESTED STARTING WEIGHT FOR WOMEN:
Light to moderate resistance bands
SETS & REPS:
10-15 reps on each side
Controlled movement - these muscles are postural endurance muscles - they need to work at a low level for long periods of time.
WAYS TO ADJUST RESISTANCE FOR BANDS:
Shorten or lengthen the band (standing closer or further from the band anchor).
Double the band.
BODY POSITION FOR THE Band core Seesaw
BAND: Anchored between waist and hip level in front of you.
FEET: Hip width apart.
BODY STANCE: Neutral spine position, knees slightly bent, sternum lifted, shoulder blades in and down your back, space between the top of your shoulders and your ear lobe. Chest wide - this is important to avoid rounding your shoulders in. Abdominals gently engaged
GRIP: Hands together gripping band with both hands with a neutral grip.
ARMS: Arms stretched out in front of you at midline - lifted up so that your hands are approximately in line with the band anchor. Elbows relaxed - straight or just slightly bent is fine. Step back until the band is taut.
HOW TO DO
HOW TO DO Band See-saws
CUE: Movement comes from your hips and your shoulders, keep your torso still.
Hinge forward at your hips, keeping a neutral pelvis and spine.
Pull your arms back between your legs as you are hinging. Your knees will bend a little bit as you hinge down and pull your arms between your legs.
Reverse your hip hinge to return to upright standing. Your knees straighten but not quite all the way (there may be a slight crease at the front of your hips also) - keep the focus on your core muscles. Keeping your knees slightly bent puts your leg muscles in a position where they can keep your legs stable with less work, while your torso moves from your hip joints. The bent knee position also makes it easier to keep your spine in neutral as your torso moves, straightening your knees tends to push your spine into extension. To feel this, try straightening your knees, then hinge at your hips. You will most likely feel your leg muscles tighten to keep your lower body stable against the pull of your arms. You may also feel some pressure in your low back. The idea is to have your legs as relaxed as possible and to feel the work in your core muscles.
As you stand up, raise your arms up overhead (within comfort).
Hinge at your hips and pull your arms back down.
Repeat this see-saw movement for the desired number of repetitions.
HOW TO SAFELY GET OUT OF THE EXERCISE
From the standing position, release the band.
WHAT TO AVOID WITH THE Band Seesaw
Guess what? Good news! Many avoids are the same for most movements. Once you learn the basics, there's really only a few extra avoids for each individual movement.
1. Avoid moving shoulders up/down as arms move Up
AVOID: Moving your shoulders up and down as the arms move overhead.
- This will interfere with the proper movement of the shoulder joint which can result in soft tissue or joint irritation, injury, or damage over time.
WHAT TO DO:
- The shoulder blade will rotate up or down (that is the natural movement) but avoid lifting the shoulders up
- Maintain good posture with the sternum lifted, space between your earlobe and the top of the shoulder.
2. Avoid locking knees
AVOID: Straightening or locking the knees.
- Most commonly happens when you are standing up from a hinged position.
- Straightening the knees can make it difficult to maintain a neutral spine.
- Extending the low back can increase the pressure on the joints of the spine and cause irritation or injury over time.
WHAT TO DO:
- The knees should be soft.
3. Avoid bending your spine
AVOID: Arching or flattening your low back.
WHAT TO DO:
- Maintain a neutral spine position to prevent low back joint injury, muscle strain or damage over time.
- If your ribs lower ribs flare upwards or your belly is lifted up - this indicates you are arching your low back.
- Most common when your arms are overhead and you are lifting the resistance overhead.
- Activate your rectus abdominis to keep the spine neutral.
- Avoid taking the arms up too far overhead: bring your arms down a little bit.
- Flattening/rounding your low back is most common during the hip hinge and pulling of the resistance between the legs.
- Lift your sternum
- Pull your shoulder blades together and down the back.
4. Avoid pushing arms back too far
AVOID: Pushing the arms back when your shoulders are tight.
- Many people have tight shoulders or upper backs.
- It may feel like a hard stop.
- Pushing tight shoulders back can irritate the soft tissues and joints.
WHAT TO DO:
- When taking the arms back overhead, stop when you feel discomfort or tightness in the shoulder joints.
- Check your shoulder range of motion in standing prior to doing the exercise.
- When you do the exercise, limit how far you lift the arms to your discomfort-free range of motion.
SPIFFILICIOUS FACTS ABOUT MUSCLES & MOVES
When you are standing up tall with good posture, your weight is distributed straight down from head to feet, with the line of gravity falling just in front of the ankles. The muscles on the back of your legs and hips are active to prevent you from falling forward.This is a very small amount of activation and the soleus muscles in the calf are the most responsible for holding you upright when you are just standing. As soon as you lean forward or add weight in front of the body, the muscle activity on the backside of the body will increase.
ALLLL MUSCLES & WHEN
ALL MUSCLES WORKING & WHEN DURING THE Band Seesaw
The core stabilizers (erector spinae, rectus abdominis, multifidi, quadratus lumborum, obliques, transverse abdominis) work to hold the spine in a neutral position throughout the exercise. Rotator cuff (infraspinatus, supraspinatus, subscapularis, teres minor) to stabilize the shoulder joint as the arm moves. The scapular retractors (rhomboids and mid traps) and depressors (latissimus dorsi, lower traps, pectoralis and ant serratus) position the shoulder blades.
The exercise begins with a hip hinge: the back extensors, lower leg muscles (gastroc/soleus), hamstrings, gluteus maximus work eccentrically as the upper body leans forward. The back extensors (erector spinae) become more active as the torso moves closer to parallel to the floor.
The pectoralis major, triceps and lats move the arms, pulling the band back between the legs. The shoulder blades rotated downward by the latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, levator and pectoralis muscles.
The back extensors, gluteus maximus, adductor magnus, hamstrings, gastroc and soleus work to hold the position against the resistance of the band pulling the arms forward.
Concentric contraction of the hamstrings, adductor magnus and gluteus maximus extend the hips to return the torso to an upright position - the resistance of the band assists this movement.
The arms reach up (flexion): the anterior deltoid, biceps brachii, coracobrachialis, pectoralis major work concentrically, the serratus anterior and trapezius rotate the shoulder blade upward. The muscles of the forearm will work isometrically to hold the wrist in a neutral position against the downward pull of the band.
The rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, and obliques contract to hold the spine in neutral against the force of the backward pull of the arms overhead.
The anterior deltoid, biceps brachii, coracobrachialis, and superior fibers of the pectoralis major work eccentrically to lower the arm back down to the starting position (hinging at the hips).