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J Strength Cond Res. 2014 Mar;28(3):856-60. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3182aac3f3.

Exercises to activate the deeper abdominal wall muscles: the Lewit: a preliminary study.

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  • 1Department of Kinesiology, Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, Spine Biomechanics Laboratory, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.


The abdominal wall is a prime target for therapeutic exercises aimed to prevent and rehabilitate low back pain and to enhance performance training. This study examined the "Lewit," a corrective exercise prescribed for several purposes, which is performed lying supine in a crook-lying position and involves forceful breathing. Muscle activation and lumbar posture were compared with bracing the abdominal wall (stiffening) with robust effort and "hollowing" (attempting to draw in the wall toward the naval) with robust effort. Eight healthy male volunteers with 6 channels of electromyography were collected by means of surface electrode pairs of the rectus abdominis, external oblique, and internal oblique (IO) together with lumbar motion. The Lewit exercise caused higher muscle activity in the deeper abdominal wall muscles, in particular the IO and by default the transverse abdominis were activated at 54% maximum voluntary contractions (MVCs) on average and 84% MVC peak with no change in spine posture to maintain the elastic equilibrium of the lumbar spine. The Lewit is a deep oblique muscle activation exercise, and the activation levels are of a sufficient magnitude for training muscle engrams. This information will assist strength and conditioning coaches with program design decisions where this corrective abdominal exercise may be considered for clients who elevate the ribcage during strength exertions, or for clients targeting the deep obliques.

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