Just stir the pot they said...it'll be fun they said. No one told you it would be the most insane ab burn you've ever received.
Now, you may hear me throw around fancy terms like "anterior core stabilization" or "transverse abdominis" once in a while, but today, you'll more likely hear me say "this shit is going to make your abs hurt worse than that one time your friend almost made you pee your pants from laughing".
That being said, let's get into it. Why is this exercise so awesome? let's take a look at it first.
It's a great progression of a front plank or an RKC plank with only a small amount of movement and a whole lot of butthurt...or ab hurt in the morning. You can use it as a filler exercise in between working sets or as part of a completely separate "core and more" day.
To quote myself from earlier:
"This shit is going to make your abs hurt worse than that one time your friend almost made you pee your pants from laughing so hard"
It helps to build strength in anti-extension, which translates over to deadlifts, squats, bench press, pullups, bent over rows and anything that requires you to extend your upper back but keep your lower back neutral.
How to Progress
Two of my favourite ways to progress this are simply to:
A) Do it longer - for 30-60 seconds at a time to build some muscular endurance
B) Create bigger circles with the elbow
Who Shouldn't Do This?
Anyone who has an extension intolerance (sharp pain when contracting the lower back), for them it would be best to start with a regressed and stationary core exercise like the front plank or bird dog. Learn how to get to a neutral spine position and they progress to this exercise.
As well as most people with a disc herniation and no previous experience with this kind of exercise, talk to your physician. Whether it be a chiropractor or physiotherapist and ask for exercises that would make your core stronger without subjecting you to unnecessary risk.
People who are already to flexion based (rounded upper and lower back), work on getting into a neutral spine position. You'll likely want to regress this exercise and work on getting some thoracic extension.
Everyone else. Because abs. Also, anyone looking to increase their anti-extension strength to help improve their deadlifts, squats, and nearly every other exercise they do.
James Harris is the founder of Titanium Strength Systems, as well as the head writer and coach. He trains online and in person in Chilliwack, BC. You can find his writing around the internet on websites such as Muscle & Strength, The PTDC, Fitness Pollenator, PTBIZ, and Deansomerset.com.