Is it true "keep your abs tight" mean sucking your stomach in?
I have always heard that when working out you should keep your abs tight.But when I tighten it actually makes my low back hurt. Is it true keep your abs tight mean sucking your stomach in? I have been sucking in because they say stuff on the video like push your navel to your spine which sounds like sucking in to me. However, when I hold this for too long my low back starts to hurt and it is harder to breathe. What is the proper way?
Your abs don't have anything to do with sucking in your stomach or pulling your naval toward your spine. That job belong to the transverse abdominus and the obliques. It's also unhealthy to suck in your stomach because it can cause side stitches in runners and it puts unnecessary pressure on internal organs by forcing the intestinal mass up toward the organs of the thorax. It is, however, equally important to not push outward from the gut because that can promote herniation.
Check out your source for information because if it's wrong about this issue, it's probably wrong about others. There is a lot of bad info floating around the world of fitness. What you should do is keep your abs reasonably taught...that's the rectus abdominus sheath or six pack. Not pushed out or pulled in.
Be very careful about your resources for information. Yahoo Answer is full of bad answer and bad questions and most other fitness websites are too. Spark People, bodybuilding.com, WebMD, Live Strong, etc. all have some good and some bad info and it's difficult for the noobs to know which is which. Dot coms should be avoided and don't ever, ever believe advertising including testimonials, scientific looking articles, YouTube videos, etc. Most of the information about fitness on the web is just someone trying to make money. The best websites are dot gov. After them, use the public library where you can still find pristine information untainted by commercial interests. And videos like Insanity, p90x, Brazillian Butt Lift, etc. are all just money makers (from Product Partners, LLC) with horrible advice for people because you can't teach everyone the same stuff when our bodies vary so much.
Keeping your abs tight means ENGAGING your ab muscles. This doesn't mean sucking your stomach in, that is just contorting your abdomen and not necessarily engaging those muscles.
When you engage your abs, you are making sure that they are active for whatever workout you are doing and that's what your video is trying to tell you that they want. When you engage your abs, its the same feeling as (forgive my rudeness here) when you are constipated and trying to poop feeling. That's just the first example that popped into my head.
Yup, that's what it means. However they don't have to be super tight. You should still be able to breathe comfortably. Start off by inhaling deeply, then release the air while keeping your stomach sucked in. Practice this breathing method for a little while before you begin your work out to make sure you get it right.
obviously you're doing something wrong if you are injuring yourself. I wouldn't worry about keeping your stomach tight or not. Its not going to make any difference (significantly) anyway. Focus on the RIGHT ab exercises like leg lifts or something.