Could Your Beer Belly Really Be Anterior Pelvic Tilt?

By: Mike Klaus ISSA, RKC, FMS,

Hi. My name is Mike, and I have an anterior pelvic tilt (APT). Most people do, but mine is excessive and has been the cause of my training plateaus and low back injuries. It also makes me look like have a gut, which is not the case. (I am right around 8% body fat.) So, if you have any of this going on then you may be suffering from APT as well.

Anterior Pelvic Tilt

Anterior refers to the front side of your body and ‘pelvic tilt’ referrers to the pelvis being tilted to one side. APT tilts forward, like in the image below.

Mike Anterior TiltWhile researching APT I came across a wide variation to “acceptable” degrees of APT in men and women. I have come to the conclusion that optimal range for men is between 8-12 degrees and 12-16 in women. Of course each individual is different and more or less could be beneficial. You can estimate your own tilt by putting your back against the wall and measuring the space between the small of you back and the wall. A hand is the ideal amount of space. Significantly more could be problematic.

Initially my remedy was to simply rotate my pelvis externally and tuck my rib cage. I did constant checks and after a couple of weeks did notice an improvement in my posture. However, when I did anything physical my body would default back to that awful APT.  I needed to do more than walk around in neutral. My body needed to be trained so that deficient muscles could hold up to the required resistance I would ask of it.

There are several causes for APT and they include weak hamstrings, weak abdominals, weak glutes, tight hip flexors, and tight spinal erectors. Hip flexors are a group of muscles near the pelvis that move the hip forward during walking and running. Spinal erectors are group of muscles in the back that supports the spine.

In order to fix the problem and bring the pelvic tilt back to acceptable levels you will need to make the hamstrings, deeper abdominals, and glutes stronger and stretch the spinal erectors and hip flexors. Here are a few exercises that have helped me. (Of course be sure to check with your doctor before you diagnose yourself or try to do these exercises.)

  1. American Deadlift – Focus on and over emphasize the pelvic motion using a lighter weight than your typical barbell hinge. The movement ends with the pelvis in a posterior pelvic tilt really squeezing the glutes at lock out. 2-3 sets of 10.
  1. The Posterior Pelvic Tilt Hip Thrust – This is simply a bodyweight hip thrust using the glutes and emphasizing pelvic motion. 2-3 sets of 20-25.
  1. The RKC Plank – Setting up like a normal plank, only the focus is the squeezing of the glutes to achieve PPT. 2-3 sets of 3-5 :10-15 reps.

An anterior pelvic tilt can prevent you from progressing past a certain point in your training, cause injuries, and make you look like you have a big gut. It may require you to take a step back in your training program it is totally worth it in the long run.