STIR THE POT Once athletes are able to perform a traditional Front Plank for at least 3 sets of 20 to 30 seconds each, they are ready to attempt Stir the Pot.
This exercise, identical in posture to Front Plank, begins with forearms on a stability ball. Athletes then make small circles with their forearms on the ball. The instability of the ball along with the circle movement makes stabilizing muscles work harder to prevent over-extension of the spine.
- Forearms on the ball about shoulder-width apart, elbows at a 90-degree angle and directly below the shoulders, extend your legs straight back about hip-width apart, toes on the floor.
- Lift your body so the weight is on the forearms and toes. Your body should be in a straight line from head to heels.
- Press forearms into the ball, resulting in a slightly rounded upper back and protracted shoulder blades. (Envision shoulder blades wrapping around the ribcage (Photo above). I cue “no chicken wings” to remind athletes to not let shoulder blades jut out.
- Brace the abs as if expecting a punch to the gut. Do not let your hips sag, which would disengage the abs and put strain on the low back. (Some people suggest that the back should be completely straight, but if it takes slightly lifting your hips to properly engage your core, that’s okay. It’s better to lift the hips slightly than to drop the hips too low.)
- Make small circles with your forearms beginning with 2 circles each direction and working up to 5 circles each direction.
- If chest or hips drop or if strain is felt in the low back, develop more strength in Front Plank from the floor and Supine Core Bracing before attempting Stir the Pot again.