A Butt Like Donald Duck
There’s an epidemic doing the rounds in the gym, involving both fresh and seasoned lifters walking around with dramatic back arches. It’s the Donald Duck conundrum. With no fix, there’s an opportunity for nagging lower back issues, weak glutes, and non-existent abs. The gut sticks out to the point that you can’t notice much else. It’s a big detraction from a physique, not to mention a recipe for injuries, making every training session one step from disaster.
Anterior Pelvic Tilt, to be official, is a form of poor posture that can easily get encouraged with further strength training, and getting too focused on getting better and bigger can easily lead to acquiring tunnel vision that doesn’t let you pull back on the reins. So the most important step to make is to accept that you’re in a bit of a situation. Even if you’re fine, it’s worth staying in prehab mode and structuring the training to avoid creating an imbalance. Better staying safe than losing the L5.
What Causes APT?
Anterior Pelvic Tilt is typically created by a mix of overtly stiff and weakened muscles. The lower back and hip flexors are short and tight, while the glutes, hamstrings, and abs are stretched and weak. The common cause is by excessive sitting, which can’t be helped a lot of the time. Standard weight-training can easily compound this by adding more quad-dominant lifts to further aggravate that lean.
Trying to strengthen the already-tight muscles only makes the situation more dramatic. The booty might be popping with the mountain of squats and lunges you’re throwing at it, but the APT is growing, the belly distending, and the booty is inching further and further back. It will eventually need a separate postcode, and will consistently be late for work. The lower back pains are not amazing either. Ultimately, you’re at a greater risk of injury, and the glutes will get progressively weaker and screw with your gains.
How To Fix APT
Because there are a number of suspects, the best approach is to target the lot and train to cover all bases. You’re stretching the lower back and hip flexors, and doing more glute and ab specific training. Which can take some concentration initially, and might require a significant detour in your routine. Done with consistency, where you’re not suffering memory loss every other week, brings results. The hips will come closer bit by bit, until one day it pops back in its rightful place. I’ll list the stretches and then the lifts.
The Lunge Stretch
Take a big stride and sink your hip down and forwards. Keep your glutes squeeze to avoid arching while you find your maximum range.
Don’t worry if you don’t have the flexibility to grab your foot behind your back, or the power to keep it from slipping out of your grasp. Just back up to a couch, small step, or even the wall. Alternate between sinking back into the rear foot, and then lunging forwards.
Shove the elbows out against the knees and lean in. Keep the abs braced to avoid arching to get there.
Third World Squat
Named this way thanks to its popularity with people without access to a chair or stool.
Put some plates under your heels and sink right down till your thighs hug your calves. Stay there for 30 seconds to 1 hour at a time. Maybe when you’re watching TV, just ditch the couch for a squat. That way you’re always being productive.
It’s a simple enough strategy. Whereas the stretches will help lessen the severity of APT by relaxing the muscles that are pulling you into this mess, the strengtheners will power up the muscles that shift you towards posterior pelvic tilt. So the glutes, hamstrings, and core are all in need of a few upgrades.
Getting your groove on, lean back against something firm, get something heavy to put on your lap, and start thrusting till the burn catches the butt. If you’re struggling, kick the weight off and settle for humping air. But in all seriousness, this move is best done with some weight across your hips. Bodyweight exercises are poor at stimulating the glutes, which are designed to be the most powerful muscle in the body. They need some extra punch. For maximal points, adding a glute band around the knees will allow the glutes to fire in multiple directions, increasing tension.
A standard plank setup, but now you’re tilting your hips in to further engage the glute and ab combo. Understanding how to do this ’tilt’ might take some initial logistics and planning, but once it starts to click, keep practicing until it’s your favourite party trick. The best way to cue is by pushing the hips down and towards the shoulders, then keeping the glutes and abs tensed hard at the same time.
BONUS TIP – SIT LESS
If that’s not an option, and your application for a standing desk gets denied by the bureaucrats, then work on adjusting your sitting position as often as you can. This prevents the hip flexors from settling into a tight position.
Fixing APT will take practice, and consistency. You’re keeping a weekly, if not daily, array of exercises and gradually pushing back the arch. It’s not a titanic effort, but it’s easy to forget to include time in your day for something as forgettable as stretching, so the sooner you adopt a steady setup, the sooner you make it.
Related Training Guide – Why Training With Technique Trumps Training Hard