New Coming Year, New Better Belly! Headlift Exercise


This is the last part of a series of 3 articles on diastasis safe exercises for men.  If you havent read the first two, click  on the links below to read them.

Link to 1st Part: MEN & DIASTASIS: What Are Diastasis Safe Exercises For Men? Exercise 1: The Elevator Exercise

Link to 2nd Part: MEN & DIASTASIS: What Are Diastasis Safe Exercises For Men? Exercise 2: Contracting 




Headlifts can be started in the 4th week of the Tupler Technique® program, after the transverse muscle has been strengthened from the seated exercises, Elevators and Contracting. It is called a “headlift” because that is all that is lifted. If the shoulders come off the floor as when doing a crunch, it is impossible to hold the transverse muscle at 5th floor. If you are not able to hold the transverse in at 5th floor you know it is going forward forcefully on the weak connective tissue and also working the muscles in the wrong direction.,,,,,,,,making them longer. We talked earlier that when you strengthen a muscle you shorten it. When you are doing the seated exercises we are shortening the recti from the front to the back. The headlift shortens the recti two ways. Front to back when you engage the transverse and top to bottom when you stabilize the pelvic and lift the head.  

The seated position is the easiest position to engage the transverse muscle. That is why the program spends the first three weeks strengthening your transverse muscle in a seated position. It is difficult to feel the transverse muscle working in a backlying position. That is why it is important to have both the strength and awareness of this muscle before starting the backlying headlifts. That is why we always start the headlift with a warmup of 10 contractions from 5th to 6th floor before we start the headlifts.

Each headlift is five steps. Then you start again. Do NOT do the 4 steps and then just lift the head up and down. That is too hard on your neck. Remember your neck is lifting your head and your head weighs around 10 pounds!

Headlifts are done lying on your back, with your knees bent. You need to be wearing a splint and holding a splint. The splint you are holding can be a scarf or the arms of your shirt or sweater. Do not use the dyna band. That is too stretchy.


Headlift Instructions

First, close your eyes while you’re doing Headlifts—it’s very important to the visualizations you do during these repetitions.

    1. Expand belly to 1st floor.
    2. Bring JUST the transverse to the 5th floor and HOLD it there.
    3. Stay at the 5th floor as you visualize the belly button zipping up under the ribs.
    4. Pull each half of the splint you’re holding in towards the middle, and visualize the ribs coming together. Bring your chin in.
    5. The transverse goes from 5th to 6th floor as you lift your head and count out loud. Transverse stays at 5th as you put your head down.

Start with 3 sets of 10 (Week 4), 3 sets of 20 (Week 5), and 3 sets of 30 (Week 6). Change the location of the splint with each set, sometimes moving it above, and sometimes below your belly button.


There are some things you need to remember while doing Headlifts:


    1. I hate to keep repeating myself…..but I want to make sure you remember to keep your shoulders on the floor. It’s literally impossible to engage your transverse muscle if your shoulders are raised.
    2. The position of your head also affects your ability to pull your transverse in. As I say to my clients, no turkey imitations! Make sure to keep your chin tucked in when you ift your head.
    3. Starting with a belly breath puts the abdominal muscles in the right starting position so then it is IN at 5th floor when you lift your head.
    4. Make sure you hold the transverse at 5th floor before zipping
    5. Make sure you keep your eyes closed so you can visualize the zip, ribs coming together, and belly going from 5th to 6th floor
    6. When you pull the splint do not move your back. If you arch your back that flares your ribs and undoes the first three steps!
    7. It is most important that you know that your transverse is IN when you lift your head. You have two ways. With your hands on your belly. If you feel the muscles moving forward then you know you are working them in the wrong direction. With your eyes closed you want to “see” the muscles going to 6th floor.


It’s not as easy as it sounds, is it? Most people are pretty surprised to find you can actually work up a sweat just by lifting your head off the ground. But if you happen to be one of the people who pulls these off with grace and ease, just move your feet further away from your butt for added difficulty. This is because the further away your feet are from your buttocks the higher the small of your back comes off the floor. When your back comes off the floor this arches your back. Remember arching your back flares your ribs. This stretches the connective tissue and it is also impossible to engage the transvesre with the ribs flared. So, it makes steps 1 through 4 a lot harder to do!!!
Please note: Substitute headlifts for crunches! Headlifts will give you the results you want while benefitting your recti muscles and connective tissue.

Apropos of visualizing your abdominal gap being zipped up, when doing the seated contracting exercises which continue to increase in number over 18 weeks…..really try to envision your connective tissue healing and becoming compact, like a cord. You can do this by seeing the blood flow to the connective tissue and then the connective tissue becoming shallower and the muscles coming together.


The Tupler Technique® is a prescription for core-strength to treat abdominal separation for women, men, & children wanting a flatter belly, strong back & smaller waist.


To learn more about Diastasis Recti & the Tupler Technique® read this article: DIASTASIS RECTI RESEARCH AND EVIDENCED BASED EXERCISE PROGRAM

To view my programs click this link: Program Packages for Men


Watch the short video below to know what a diastasis is.


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