Notice I didn’t say ab exercises because these moves work way more muscles than just your abs – they work your ENTIRE core.
I could have listed things like the single leg squat and deadlift since they are so great in terms of working your core, but since I’ve talked about them a few times recently, I decided to include some different ones to add to your exercise repertoire.
Really any single limb movement is going to engage your core more be it rotational or anti-rotational. For some single limb movements you can use to work your core, check out this blog with single limb exercises.
Below are some core focused moves that I really love!
- Wall push – This move can either be super easy or super tough…It is up to you. To do this move, stand up against a wall and push into the wall as if you are going to move the wall backwards. Get up nice and close to the wall as if you are at the bottom of a push ups. Drive all the way up through your feet into your hands against the wall. Your core should be tight enough that if someone comes and pushes on you from any angle you won’t move. (To make the move more difficult, have someone actually push on you from all angles as you hold!)
- Pull up and hold – You can do this as a chin up or pull up. You can do it off a bar, off a peg board, off of TRX straps…wherever. But what you need to do is pull to the top of a pull up or chin up and HOLD. Keep your legs straight down toward the ground and your chin above the bar. Keep your chest pressed out and shoulder blades down and back. Squeeze your belly button in toward your spine and keep your glutes tight. Hold as long as you can. This move is also a great way to work on pull ups (especially if you do a slow negative on the way down!).
- Inchworm with row – So when I first started and had to train both of the owners, I busted out this move for one of their workouts because it is probably one of the best full body moves out there! To perform the inch worm, start standing. Place your hands on the ground as if you are performing a hamstring stretch. Then walk your hands out until you are in a high plank or top of a push up position. Then walk your feet back in, keeping your legs as straight as possible until you are back in that standing hamstring stretch. To make this move harder, add a dumbbell back row in the plank position. So with the weights walk your hands out to the plank just like you would with the basic inchworm. In the plank, perform one dumbbell row on each side, then walk your feet back in. Make sure to keep your hips from rotating when performing the row (you want a solid plank position…not butt up toward the ceiling!). To make this move super hard, add sliders or even plate weights that will slide to your feet. Instead of walking your feet back in, slide them together back in, like you are performing a jackknife. The sliders will also make it more difficult as you walk out and as you hold the plank.
- Power Ropes Sidewinders (Can also do rainbows) – I picked this rope move because it is super super good for the obliques and works rotation unlike the moves above which all work in the sagittal plane. In a nice athletic stance, you rotate side to side as quickly as you can, causing the rope to smoothly snake all the way down. You can also mix in some rotation with the rainbow wave, which reminds me a bit of a Russian twist. You start at the hipbone and make a rainbow up to the shoulders and down to the other hipbone. For videos of these moves, check out John Brookfield’s Youtube. He and Ingrid have some great moves for the ropes, including waves and pulls (as well as a lot of other cool random stuff!).
- Windmills (or progressed to Turkish Get Up) – So I actually saw these in an article the other day and was like “I haven’t done these in FOREVER and I used to LOVE them! I haven’t done them in forever because recently I’ve been doing the Turkish Get Up. BUT both are great for shoulder stabilization as well as core strength. To perform a windmill, you can start with out weight. Feet should be about shoulder width. Turn out the toe of the side that you aren’t going to work to about 45 degrees. Straighten the other arm up toward the ceiling. You are then going to hinge over, driving the butt cheek of the arm that is up out to the side as much as you can. Then you are going to stand back up, keeping the arm straight toward the ceiling the entire time.
- Landmine wipers or twists – So this can be both a rotational and anti-rotational move. You can either rotate from hip to hip with the barbell or you can decide to fight against rotating as you lower the barbell down to about shoulder height on each side.
- Sit Thrus – One of my favorite moves. It kind of looks like breakdancing when it is done correctly…at least to me anyway. To do this move, start in a table top crawling position. Start up on your hands and toes with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Then you are going to literally sit through. With your right knee bent, you are going to sit through your left side, raising your left hand off the ground. Then return back to the starting position and repeat on the other side. (Check out the top two photos below to see the two main parts of the move.)
- Planks with pulls or waves – So there are actually like three exercises really included in number 8. There is the plank with a pull from either in front or behind. This one can involve a hip hinge like the one show below with the chain.
There is also the plank with a pull through across the body. With this one you reach your hand under and across your body while holding a plank to grab a rope or a sandbag. You then pull the bag or rope across your body to the other side. Depending on your goal for the move, you can either use a slight hip hinge or you can fight against the rotation of your hips to hold a strict plank. And last, but not least, there is a plank with one-handed battling waves. I had my volleyball girls do this one the other day. It is harder than you would think!
- Handstands – Handstands are just an amazing move. A full handstand without support requires a lot of core strength. As you work up to that, you can work on your core strength by doing variations of the handstand. You can start with a downward dog and then progress by walking your feet up a wall. As you get your feet up higher on the wall, walk your hands as close as you can to the wall until you are completely vertical. Once you get in super close, you can advance the move by walking side to side or lifting one hand up to tap your thigh.
- Bar rotations – I found these when reading Nick Tumminello’s articles. He has some AMAZING STUFF about…well…EVERYTHING! These honestly are like a standing variation of the Russian twist, but I definitely like them better! (And I kind of like them when I need to vent a bit of anger…they feel like I’m fighting something haha)
Runners up: I really love these moves as well so want to mention them even if I don’t go into detail.
Medball throws both sideways and overhead. Medball slams both rotational and straight ahead.
Any front loaded exercise like front squats or good mornings. When you front load you force your core to work harder to stabilize!
Also, I love any sort of hanging knees to elbows or feet to bar or even skin the cats. However, since crossfit became popular I feel like most people know those so chose not to include them. Also, those can be incredibly tough and not easily done by everyone. Everyone can do some variation of the exercises above.
I also wanted to include a ton of plank variations…Plank on the power wheel. Plank with reach throughs. Plank with reach back and out. Planks on sliders where you slide your feet backwards and stretch out then come back to starting…ACTIVE planks. I love ACTIVE planks. But there were just so many that I honestly feel like planks need their own full article if I’m going to touch on them!
And last but not least, resistance band rotations and even the stability press…actually especially the stability press. I love anti-rotational moves!
What are your favorite core moves that aren’t either crunches or sit ups?
So today our metabolic workout included, among many tortuous things, the Towel Taz.
The Towel Taz has become one of my favorite aerobic conditioning moves. While not necessarily hard if you do it for 10 or even 20 seconds, it becomes brutal at about 30 seconds and completely destroys you if you do it for a couple of minutes.
So what is the Towel Taz?
Basically it is you shaking a towel as powerfully and quickly as you can up and down while moving quickly around from side to side, in a circle, forwards, backwards and every which way. (Just like the Tasmanian devil above, you are basically moving around as fast as you can in a whirlwind!)
Trust me…It is harder than it sounds. That towel that at one point seemed light (although the moving blankets we use don’t exactly feel light even to begin with) gets pretty heavy, pretty quickly. And your legs get amazingly fatigued moving around quickly.
BUT I also like this move because it is something that anyone at any level can do.
AND you can easily do this move even at home…or well…anywhere for that matter! All you need is a towel or blanket. Even a freaking bath towel will work! You don’t even need a lot of room to do this move (just make sure there isn’t anything around that you could knock over with the towel!).
So the next time you want to do a little aerobic conditioning, but don’t feel like going for a run or you don’t have a piece of equipment like a treadmill, bike, VersaClimber or elliptical handy, grab a towel!
Start with 3 two-minute rounds of Towel Tazes. Try to decrease your rest from 2 minutes in between each round to only 30 seconds between each round. BUT if you decrease rest, make sure that you aren’t doing it at the expense of working hard the next round. It is better to rest for 2 minutes and work just as hard the second and third rounds than it is to rest for only 30 seconds and be super sloppy the last couple of rounds.
Once that feels easy try 5 rounds or even up the time that you do the Towel Taz.
OR if you are looking for a great metabolic circuit, try the one I did today!
3-4 Rounds of the following 9 exercises, with one minute rest between rounds.
Each exercise is done for 40 seconds, followed by 20 seconds of rest to change to the next exercise.
Sled “Fight” (Push, pull, rotate the sled every direction within a small amount of space.)
Power Ropes battling waves with shuffle (So alternate arm waves while shuffling side to side.)
Push against Wall (So if you don’t push yourself on this one it isn’t hard, but what you do is literally push against a wall as if you want to move it!)
Lateral Shuffle, Sprawl, Sit Thru (So shuffling in a semi-circle, at random points drop to the ground and perform a sit thru, which is an ab move where you lift your left hand and bring your right foot up to replace your hand and literally “sit through.”)
Bag Carry (Take a heavy bag, sandbag or any other awkward heavy bag and bear hug it and walk around quickly.)
Sidewinders (Using a two-inch, 50 ft rope, stretched out all the way, rotate side to side creating waves like a snake moving over the ground. A total ab killer!)
Woodchop Sit ups (Hold a weight with both hands over your right shoulder. Knees bent, sit up and drive the weight across down to your right hip. Then lay back down and repeat)
Glute bridge with twist and reach (In a glute bridge reach your right hand as far back over your head on your left side as you can. Then come back center and reach your left hand across your body and as far overhead to your right as you can.)
Super good! AND lots of different ways to move!
Anyone else have any random exercises that they love that look kind of stupid and not that hard but are actually KILLER?
So on Sunday morning, I grated off a chunk of my knuckle.
The grater went in nice and deep and the cut oozed blood all day and my knuckle swelled up.
It hurt, but what hurt more than the cut was the fact that I knew I had my battling ropes challenges starting the very next day.
How the heck was I going to grip the rope for 10 minutes and then even 20 minutes with a freaking finger that wouldn’t bend?
And on top of the fact that I now had this annoying little injury, I DIDN’T WANT TO DO THE BATTLING ROPES FOR FIVE MINUTES LET ALONE 20!
Have I mentioned before that I really really dislike any form of long cardio?
Well, I DO!
So between the fact that my finger hurt and I had to do cardio for a while, I developed a very bad attitude.
Usually, I’d consider myself fairly tough. I suck it up and do it.
But usually I also semi-enjoy the torture I’m putting myself through.
Speed work on the power ropes?
Sure no problem.
Endurance work doing battling ropes?
No thank you.
But I didn’t have a choice.
So I grumpily made my way into the gym and started pouting to Jeff and Aaron about my stupid finger.
I had the whole lip out and head down pout really going when Aaron said, “Ready?”
I wanted to say, “NOOOOOOOO!”
But instead I just nodded and picked up the ropes.
Five minutes in, I was whining to myself in my head. I was counting the seconds. It seemed like forever until I hit 1o minutes. My forearms were on fire and I couldn’t seem to get out of my mental funk.
At 10 minutes, I was done. It wasn’t AWFUl, but I was still dreading the 20 minute challenge yet to come.
It wasn’t even mental fatigue. Honestly, other than my forearms nothing even felt worked. It was all in my head.
When I went home, I kept telling myself that it wasn’t THAT bad. That 20 minutes wouldn’t be much worse.
But that didn’t change my attitude for today.
I walked into that gym as grumpy as could be.
But I started the ropes.
About a minute in, I wanted to drop the ropes. I felt tired. I didn’t want to do long cardio!
When Aaron told me I’d hit 5 minutes, I wanted to scream. AHHHHHHHH!
15 more minutes!?!
My forearms were already tired and my legs were even feeling it today.
I had such a bad attitude that I even told Aaron that I basically just wanted to stop.
He kept repeating positive thinks and I mentally told myself to SHUT UP! with the negative thoughts.
And something finally clicked.
I started cruising.
The last 10 minutes felt 100 times easier than the first 5.
And all because my attitude had changed.
I’d been such a wimp and once I finally got over the negative attitude, things got easier.
So all I can say from this experience is that working out and pushing yourself to reach new goals is about 80% mental.
Yes, your body has to be strong enough, but if your mind isn’t strong….you’ll never achieve your goals.
So tell those negative thoughts to SHUT UP and see just how much more you can accomplish.
I mean it….Don’t even let yourself say you’re tired and you may just surprise yourself with how strong you ACTUALLY are!
So today I had a nice group of family and friends come in for a post-Thanksgiving day workout.
They did some power ropes and blanket shakes. Some medball throws, sled pushes and even a little VersaClimber.
The workout ran about an hour and consisted of some nice interval training to get the blood pumping.
I then did my workout right after…besides the 15 minute warm up and foam rolling, my workout lasted all of 1 minute.
That’s right…1 minute.
And I’ve never wanted to throw up/pass out/fall on the ground and never get up so badly in my life.
What did I do?
300 feet on the VersaClimber in 1 minute.
Sitting now on my couch almost three hours later, my body still doesn’t feel right. But I must say that I’m as pretty darn pleased.
While I was so nervous I wanted to puke because not only was EVERYONE watching, but I knew how bad I was going to feel when I was done, I went for it.
At the beginning I was hauling….and then about 30 seconds in, I hit THE WALL.
I ran smack-dab face first into a solid brick wall.
I could hear it in everyones’ voices…I was slowing down. They didn’t think I was going to make it.
And then one of the other trainers at IR, Eddie, said something to me, which I can’t now remember, but it fired me up.
I was not going to fail.
A primal scream tore through my mind and I kicked into that next gear.
I made it.
(Apparently everyone truly thought I wasn’t going to make it. Ryan’s dad even looked at Ryan and shook his head. I seemed down and out. But my newly learned mental toughness wouldn’t let me give up even when it seemed the odds were against me.)
They were all cheering as I fell off the machine and collapsed to the ground.
I’m pretty sure I started crying. And I have no real idea of what anyone said to me the next 20 minutes. I just know Corey (yes there is another trainer at the gym named Cori…the proper spelling…haha) came over and dragged me over to the bike to help my legs loosen up.
And I’m pretty sure I look like I’m about to throw up in all of the bootcamp photos we took (I can’t wait to see them).
But I did it.
I don’t think I’ve ever been so proud of myself.
And I also don’t think I’ve ever felt so crappy.
P.S. I have to give a HUGE shout out to my mentor Aaron Guyett. I’ve become a better trainer and person because of all you have taught me over the last two months of training. Now on to the Kettlebell competition and 20 minutes on the Battling Ropes!
So I’ve always loved circuit training. You can get your heart rate up and work your entire body quickly and efficiently.
But circuit training isn’t necessarily the best way or the only way to get great results.
I think most often circuit training is our go to for workouts because it is easy to great a program using the model and usually the workouts are KILLER.
But a “killer workout” doesn’t necessarily mean that it is helping you reach your specific goals.
Just because you don’t feel like death after a workout doesn’t mean that it wasn’t amazing and even more beneficial than one that completely destroyed you.
Anyway, I’ve definitely been playing around with program design recently. I always think that if you are open to learning, you will continually find better, more efficient ways of reaching your goals.
You just can’t be stuck on having to do a workout that “destroys you” every time.
One great design I’ve been using more often is supersets either with strength and stabilization or strength and power OR, as I mentioned in a post a month or so back, even just sticking with one exercise for a period of time before moving on to the next.
So on that note, I just wanted to share my wonderful workout from today, which is actually courtesy of Aaron the owner at Innovative Results! Honestly the only part I wanted to “die” on was the Versa Climber…but we have a love-hate relationship anyway….
Warm up (foam roll!, band walks, lunges, locomotion)
Kettlebell Jerks (30 seconds right arm, 30 seconds left arm, alternating 5 minutes)
Battling Ropes (30 seconds intense waves all the way down, 30 seconds easy sidewinders, alternating for 5 minutes)
Kettlebell Snatches (30 seconds right arm, 30 seconds left arm, alternating 5 minutes)
Stage Coach Ropes (double arm waves) (30 seconds intense waves all the way down, 30 seconds “punching” rotational work, alternating for 5 minutes)
Kettlebell Long Cycle aka clean and jerk (30 seconds right arm, 30 seconds left arm, alternating 5 minutes)
Battling Ropes (5 minutes)
Versa Climber (30 second sprint, 30 second rest for 5 minutes)
Walk around until you don’t feel like you are going to fall over and not get back up and then foam roll!
A great workout that is challenging, gets your heart pumping, works on full body strength and explosive power and even works on patient endurance!
It does it all…And it isn’t just a workout that “murders you.”
P.S. If you haven’t ever done snatches or long cycle (aka clean and jerk) with a KB before, please check out the videos on the site I linked to above. Kettlebell lifts are way safer than Olympic lifts but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have some technical guidance before attempting them!
I have many women and even some men tell me that they want to be able to do perfect full push ups and push ups.
And I say “OK!”
Because there is a way to get there! Consistent hard work and a well thought out progression based on what you need to work on will get you there!
So this really applies to any exercise that you want to be able to do, but honestly two of the exercises that most people can’t do, but should be able to do are the push up and pull up (also, most people recently have been telling me they want to be able to do these two moves so I figured I would focus on them).
First, consider all of the muscles used in the move.
For push ups, you use your pecs, shoulders, triceps, core and even your quads and legs. Most often though, people need to focus on core strength and either shoulder or tricep strength.
For pull ups, core and back strength are essential. The grip you use will also determine how much bicep is involved.
Once you identify the muscles used, you can work on those muscles. That doesn’t mean you have to start doing tricep extensions and bicep curls.
You can still do compound movements.
So to work on improving your push up, first assess where you are. Can you do a push up with your hands on an incline? Can you do a push up from your knees? And when I say “Do a push up.” I mean a PERFECT form push up from that position.
Same goes for pull ups. Can you do jumping pull ups? Can you do pull ups where you jump up and slowly lower yourself down? Can you do a pull up and hold? Or can you do a chin up but not a full pull up yet?
Get a clear picture of where you are starting from. If you know exactly where you are at, you can design a program that will get you to where you want to be.
If you don’t have a clear starting point, how the heck are you going to outline a clear progression!?! You won’t know how long it will take you to get somewhere if you don’t even know where you are starting from!!
So once you know what muscles are involved and where you are starting from, you must create workouts that strengthen your weak areas and progress you toward you end goal.
While you will want to do lots of push ups and pull ups during your progression they shouldn’t be the only thing that you are doing.
For push ups, do some core strengthening exercises. Do some crawling that targets your shoulders, core and quads. Do some form of dips, be they full dips or dips off a bench. I mean even get creative with it. Try some chest flies on the slider. Do some ab roller to work your arms and core. Battling ropes can be good. Medball chest passes are a good explosive way to work your upper body.
There are lots of ways to work. Pick exercises that target your weak points!
For pull ups, battling ropes again can be good. Working on different variations of pull ups can help. Try some medball slams into the ground. You can do ones straight ahead or rainbow slams where you slam it down on each side. Do some inverted rows. Some pivot prone pulldowns. Work on your grip strength. Heck even just playing on the monkey bars will definitely help!
And the good part about some of the things that you can do to work on both of these moves is that they will improve your overall posture and strength not JUST progress you toward a perfect pull up or push up.
There are even moves that can benefit both exercises in some way such as the parallel bar press. Just hold your body straight up off of parallel bars or a dip machine. Don’t be a “turtle” aka keep your shoulder blades pull back and down and your spine long. Your neck should be long and not tucked back into your shoulders like a turtle pulling its head into its shell. Just hold. Keep your abs engaged and your shoulder blades retracted. You will feel this in your back and your arms and even your core.
Anyway, there are a bazillion ways to strengthen your body to progress toward a pull up or push up. Don’t just flounder blindly and HOPE you will get there. SET UP A PROGRESSION!
If you need help or want some exercises to help you strengthen your weak points, let me know! 🙂
Yesterday I attended a Level 1 Battling Ropes Certification course.
It was AWESOME!
Honestly, it is one of THE BEST THINGS that most people AREN’T INCLUDING in their program.
Who can do battling ropes?
That is the best part…EVERYONE!
It was one of the few workouts we can all do that really has no risk of injury AND doesn’t need a lot of practice to get the “form” correct.
When we are teaching someone to deadlift, it is a slow and long process. Their joints and connective tissues have to be ready to lift the weight before they can bump up the resistance. So even if they have the muscular strength to do a weight, their body might not truly be ready to handle it. AND form is an important part of the deadlift. You have to learn the form before you can increase the weight you are using.
But that isn’t the case with the Battling Ropes. With Battling Ropes, a beginner or a professional athletes can use the same 50ft, 1.5 inch rope and get a killer workout.
Everyone’s connective tissues can handle the weight of the ropes. AND everyone can DEVELOP correct form as they do the ropes more. At the beginning your body may compensate, but as you get tired your entire body has to work together correctly to produce the force necessary to make waves all the way down the rope. Imbalances will reveal themselves AND correct themselves as people do the ropes more and more.
All of the PROBLEMS that develop or can hinder progress with traditional weight lifting can be corrected using the ropes.
And on top of that, THEY AREN’T EASY!
I can bench press, do tons of push ups, deadlift and squat heavy weights, but one minute on the Battling Ropes and my body is says, “OUCH!”
I just love it!
Battling Ropes help increase your work capacity, teach you how to use your entire body to move EFFICIENTLY and increase your power and strength. They do everything basically AND everyone can do them.
You just start by making the waves go as far down the rope as you can. That may be two feet or all the way down. As your body learns how to move efficiently and becomes stronger, you will get the waves further and further down the ropes and increase the speed at which you can produce the waves.
Start with just a minute. Each time try to go longer! Right now I have two challenges that I want to take down. Five minutes straight of the alternating arm waves (after that I’ll try 10 minutes) and then the 1 mile rope pull. Wish me luck!
If you want to learn more about Battling Ropes and the exercises you can do with them (hopefully I will have some of my own videos soon!), check out these videos by John and his crew. John’s website also has some great info on it! Our gym also has some great videos that I will link to as soon as our site is back up!
Next we will discuss some more natural movements for our body, CRAWLING. Not only forwards, but also backwards. It is crazy how hard the backwards because we never train that movement pattern YET it should be something we train since we have to do it naturally!
P.S. I thought one of the most interesting things about using Battling Ropes is that you don’t get SORE from a workout with them. Because of the constant motion and the use of only concentric and isometric contractions, you don’t get sore the next day. Fatigued, yes, but sore, no.