Improving pillar/torso strength should be a primary aim for all fitness programs. Utilizing neutral spine core work to minimize unwanted shear force on the lumbar spine is a safer and often more effective way to train the core. Adding dynamic closed chain shoulder stability work will only further challenge the client. Today’s exercise is an example of such a movement incorporating a medicine ball.
Execution: Begin in a tall plank position with the feet shoulder width apart. Position the left hand directly beneath the left shoulder. The right hand will be on top of a medicine ball. Slowly perform a clockwise revolution of the ball around the stationary left wrist bringing the ball back to a position just beneath the sternum. Next, position the right hand beneath the right shoulder and repeat a similar but counterclockwise pattern with the left hand moving the medicine ball around a stationary right hand. Perform 5 alternate figure 8 style repetitions on each side.
Focus on maintaining a neutral spine alignment and minimizing pelvic/torso rotation. Rest (only if needed or form dictates) and keep the ball as close to the stationary hand as possible to minimize loss of balance or unnecessary perturbations.
Regression: perform the exercise on the knees for clientele without prerequisite strength/stability or those who cannot tolerate that much load through the wrist. In this instance, position the hands above the shoulders at an angle that sufficiently engages the core while still allowing for proper form.
1. Increase total work time by performing the figure 8 pattern more slowly or doing more reps
2. Perform 5 consecutive repetitions around the same hand before switching sides
3. Utilize a heavier medicine ball
Application: This exercise is an excellent way to train anti-extension and anti-rotation strength in the core musculature as well as improve shoulder and hip stability. It is particularly effective for swimmers, gymnasts, overhead athletes, and anyone with a history of shoulder instability.