PANCAKE: There are many loaded stretching methods to help achieve the pancake, however I feel that some often jeopardise what I consider a key element of the position – keeping a flat lower back. Why? It’s not just aesthetics – even a slight rounding in the lumbar prevents you from receiving a true representation of your hip mobility – you end up cheating yourself. It’s the same concept as touching your toes, but with your knees ever so slightly bent – NO PREGNANCY.
A common technique is to hold the load over the shoulders or across the the upper back (i.e. plate, barbell, weighted sack…) however I have found that, even with minimal loads of 5-10kg, the lower back fatigues too soon, it begins to round and you never truly get your teeth into that new range of motion.
A few suggestions:
1. Do not focus on getting your chest to the floor – make pressing the ABDOMINALS firmly into the floor your goal. This will encourage a flatter lumbar.
2. Use a heavy plate or something to lean against your lower back – position it so that it has FLAT contact with your lumbar when in your lowest range of motion. This will both focus the stretch on you hips and help brace your lower back. For greater intensity, place the whole weight right over your lumbar.
3. Use the most MINIMAL front-weight needed to assist you into a new range of motion and keep it low and pressed into the ABDOMINALS. For some extra juice, hold the plate out for a few moments, but bring it back in before the lower back experiences any fatigue – keep full focus in the hip complex.
Reps/sets/tempo are up to you.