Celebrity Trainer Don Saladino does not like crunches. Instead, he prefers to "stir the pot," referring to a full-body plank variant that is much tougher than the kitchen-inspired name suggests.
Last Thursday, the owner of NYC's Drive495 gym, whose clients included Blake Lively Emily Blunt, Ryan Reynolds, Jake Gyllenhaal and Sebastian Stan, had an Instagram video in which he demonstrated the challenging core move, via @donsaladino, here:
"I never crunch!" Saladino writes next to the video in the caption: "Try to stir the pot for abdominal and core work."
This exercise is "a core and abdominal movement that will give you a lot of money for your money," Saladino tells SELF. Saladino is not a fan of crunches because the classic abdominal muscles require the flexing and widening of the lower back, a movement that may increase the risk of lower back injury (), especially in patients with existing back problems ) repeated and improper execution. Instead, he suggests doing core exercises that do not involve this risk – like "stirring the pot". Another plus of this special movement: it's fun and different, he says.
This movement requires whole-body intervention and stabilization, especially of the shoulders, core, hips and gluteal muscles.
improved plank, "says Saladino from the exercise" Stir the pot ". In fact, it is much more difficult than the top plank, he adds. Because you are performing the movement on an unstable surface (a Swiss ball, also referred to as an exercise ball) and moving your arms, you demand more strength and stabilization from the entire body than you would do stationary, plank lying on the ground.
In the "Stirring the Pot" exercise, "The idea is to literally stabilize your entire body as much as possible as you go through this clockwise and counterclockwise movement," explains Saladino. To achieve this, you must create tension throughout the body, from the shoulders, over the core, to the ankles, and then hold it. The fact that you frequently change the direction of movement of your arms means that you are forced to create different core muscles at different times. This dynamic element makes this step especially suited to hit your core from angles . "Exposure to the abdominal wall changes," explains Saladino, and the movement "affects every part of the nucleus," including the rectus abdominis (what you think of when you think of abs), transverse abdominis (a deep core muscle that wraps around) around the spine and the sides) and the oblique muscles on the sides of the stomach.
To be precise, the above-mentioned OG Plank, if performed correctly, may also be a large nuclear strengthening movement . But If is the keyword. "Just because you hold a plank in your hand does not mean that you create tension in the abdominal muscles and in the core," says Saladino. Common deformities, such as buckling or rounding of the spine, or notching the coccyx and locking the gluteal muscles, can lessen the tension of your core and place it on your lower back (increasing the likelihood that you're straining it). Plankers may not know that they are making these mistakes unless they are in the mirror of a mirror or under the guidance of a personal trainer.
The Stir in Pot exercise, on the other hand, provides more obvious feedback on your form. If one of the larger muscle groups is not busy repeating, your hips will slip and / or your torso will move, explains Saladino. As you balance on an unstable surface you will notice these flaws much faster than in a floor plank.
Body tension and strong core activation should allow you to execute a standard plank on the ground before attempting the movement.
You should be able to obtain a whole body plank Tension for at least 10 seconds before attempting to stir the pot. If you use this standardized, grounded plank, you should be able to create enough tension in your body so that if someone pushes you in the middle of the movement, you can keep calm. If you can hold a plank with this tension level for at least 10 seconds, you can do the movement further down, says Saladino.
Also, because it requires a degree of shoulder strength and stability if you have had shoulder injuries and / or pain in the past, this may not be the right move for you. Check with your doctor or physiotherapist before trying.
To do the "Stir-pot" movement:
- Get on your forearms and wrists on the ball with a large gym ball in front of you. Your wrists should be at shoulder distance and your hands and triceps should not hit the ball touch. Position your feet at hip distance, but you may want to focus on how difficult the movement feels to you (more on this below).
- Push through your toes from here to lift your knees off the floor Keep your feet at hip width. Squeeze your buttock muscles and legs together and support your core so that your body forms a long, straight line from the shoulders to the hips to the ankles.
- Keep the total body tension upright and turn both forearms clockwise, letting you move the ball in a small circle. Pause, then turn your forearms counterclockwise and move the ball again in a small circle.
- This is 1 repetition. Do 10 repetitions.
Make sure your hips are as steady as possible with each repetition, and do not turn them while turning your arms. "You should feel like someone could put a glass of water on your back and your back will not move," says Saladino.
If your hips are moving or the movement is otherwise too difficult, spread your feet further apart. he proposes. To make it more challenging, narrow your attitude. If you have the posture that feels right for you, do 10 repetitions of that movement, and "you'll feel it," Saladino says – in the core, in the shoulders and pretty much in the whole body.