This is the second in a series of four core moves developed by master of movement Paul Chek. Try this lower-abdominal test to see if you need to work on your ab coordination. (For last month's core move, check out the related link at right.)
This test assesses your lower-abdominal strength and coordination. The lower abs support the back and pelvis to help you coordinate powerful skiing movements in your lower body while maintaining a quiet upper body.
The Test: Lie on your back with knees bent and feet lifted off the floor (knees pointing toward the ceiling). Place your hands palms down under the lower back, opposite your belly button. Flatten your back against your fingers, then slowly lower your feet to the ground and back up again. If your spine arches (moving pressure away from your fingers) before the feet touch the ground (or on the way back up), your lower abs aren't strong enough to stabilize the lumbar spine and pelvis. Your hip flexors are probably kicking in to compensate. On the slopes, this weakness increases your chances of back injury and translates into an inability to maneuver your hips into the fall line to initiate the next turn.
The Solution: The test becomes the exercise for strengthening the lower abdominals. Place both hands under your back and perform the exercise as you did the test, but begin with one leg on the ground, bent at the knee, while you raise and lower the other bent leg. Perform 20 reps on each leg, alternating legs. Add challenge by raising and lowering a progressively straighter leg. Move at a slow to moderate tempo and work up to five sets of 20 reps.