Dec 14, 2017
Stir It Up

Core strength and stability are important for athletes in every sport. Not only does having a solid core maximize power in sport specific movements, it also helps reduce the risk of injury. However, your athletes will probably get bored if they are doing the same crunches, sit ups, and planks over and over. Instead, try adding the stir the pot exercise to your program.

In a blog for Girls Gone Strong, Molly Galbraith, CSCS, explains that the stir the pot increases the strength of the anterior core, while also serving as an anti-extension exercise. It can also be used for many purposes, including as a warm up or even for conditioning. And all it requires is a stability ball. Here are the steps to carrying out the stir the pot, laid out by Galbraith:

  1. Place your forearms on a Swiss ball and your toes on the ground in plank position (or your knees if this is too hard).
  2. Position your elbows slightly ahead of your shoulders.
  3. Keep your body in a straight line and your spine in neutral alignment.
  4. Take a deep breath through your nice, tuck in your rib cage towards your hips, contract the muscles around your trunk and glutes and perform your chosen movement.

“With the movements, you have different options: You can move your arms in one direction, move them in the other direction, or one really popular idea is to actually go through the alphabet, so think A,B,C,D,” writes Galbraith. “You can also do figure eights.”

According to a blog by Fitness Coach Sean Nalewanyj, some athletes may need to build their strength in order to hold the correct posture throughout the movement. You can help with this by having them engage in a stationary plank on the floor with elbows bent at 90 degrees. Once they can hold this for 60 seconds, Nalewanyj suggests moving them to a stationary plank with arms on the Swiss ball. When they can hold this position for 60 seconds, they are ready to move on to the stir the pot.

If your athlete finds the exercise too easy, Galbraith suggests adding some resistance. This could mean placing a weight plate on the lower back or elevating their feet on a bench. No matter how you decide to implement the exercise, it is important that your athletes utilize the correct technique at all times.

To help with this, Galbraith offers a few coaching tips. One is to always keep the body straight. The athlete’s head should not drop and the hips should not sag. Galbraith also recommends keeping the chin tucked and breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth during the entire exercise.

While there are many options for type of movement, Nalewanyj recommends doing circular motions of 8-15 repetitions per set, and reversing the direction of the circle every 2-4 rotations. Once your athlete can do this without issue, you can also increase difficulty by having them move their arms in larger circles.

To see the stir the pot exercise in motion, check out this video from Nalewanyj.

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