Monday, December 6, 2010

Different Exercise for Core and/or Conditioning

The following is an exercise I picked up from Dave Rak of MBSC. It's a sled pull, performed from a 1-leg plank position. I tried it the other day, and I found it to be a great addition to add to my "training toolbox."

Now, just to be clear, there's no point in performing "cool" exercises just for the sake of doing them. The basics have worked for decades, and this isn't going to change anytime soon. There are many "cool," "different," and "trendy" exercises I see in the fitness industry that I find less practical than throwing yourself into a shark tank:


Doing curls while standing on a BOSU ball is another exercise that makes me want to curl up in the fetal position, but I digress.

A lot of people can't perform a true, proper, plank or side plank for 60 seconds, so I recommend mastering those exercises (and their variations) before adding something else to your program just because it looks fancy. It will be a much more effective way of reaching training goals! Now, let me introduce you to the 1-leg Plank with Sled Pull:

(Aside: crunches and sit-ups suck. Something like this - and similar variations - will do way more for your core development, strength, and stability than the traditional sit-up, which also places roughly 3300 N (730lb) of compressive force on the spine BTW)

You'll notice my left leg and right arm work together to provide the base of support. My left arm extends to grab the rope and pull the sled toward me, all while trying to prevent rotation at the torso and also keep the right leg suspended above the ground the entire time.

I find this one to be particularly useful for three scenarios:

  1. For a reasonably trained athlete/client that has mastered static core exercises (ex. plank and side plank, and has progressed appropriately)
  2. For someone that is strong enough to perform an exercise like this, but either lacks the focus to perform other exercises prescribed for them, or simply doesn't really, truly care. Some very talented athletes fall into this category. They're in the weight room simply because they're told to be, not because they (the athlete) sees strength training as genuinely beneficial to their sport performance. This is a great exercise for them because it's a self-limiting exercise. It provides a natural obstacle that prevents someone from doing it wrong (you simply have to stay focused on the movement, or else you'll inevitably mess it up ex. the leg in the air will hit the ground, or you fall on your face).
  3. A way to combine core and conditioning. Most people hate core training, and dislike conditioning even more. This is a way to kill two birds with one stone, and most people will find this exercise at least somewhat "fun."
Side Notes: You could do the plank+sled pull with both feet on the ground to make the exercise easier. Sled pulls (standing, seated, prone, etc.) in general make a great option for a GPP session in between lifting days, as there is minimal eccentric contribution to the movement.


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