A lean midsection and a strong core are two very different things. While it is important to distinguish between a low body-fat percentage and physical strength, that is not to say that the two are mutually exclusive. The stronger the core musculature, the harder you can push your body when it comes to training, which is where all that glorious muscle comes in. If you’re looking to challenge your core beyond the regular diet of planks and sit-ups, then stirring the pot just might be the answer!
Comprehensive core training requires you to engage in all the aspects of core movement. While trunk flexion is one of the functions of the abdominals, it’s only a small part of what the core is fully capable of. Anti-extension, anti-rotation and anti-flexion fall well within the realm of core training as well.
The chief concern of the core is to stabilise the body. When you slide on something slippery and you struggle to regain your balance in that split second – that’s your core at work. While we’re certainly not suggesting for you to place yourself in a similarly precarious situation for the sake of a stronger core, you can factor in such examples of instability when it comes to designing core workouts.
Location and equipment courtesy of TripleFit
Stir-the-pot is a movement that takes place with your upper body supported atop an exercise ball. Setting up will be similar to that of an RKC plank – hands clasped together, shoulders squared away and tucked down, glutes contracted and a tight but neutral arch in the lower back. The idea is to have tension radiating throughout the body even before you begin. Once ready, simply move your hands in a circular fashion, much as if you were stirring a pot of soup. Do a number of revolutions in one direction and follow it up with the same number but in the opposite direction. Rinse and repeat.
What makes the stir-the-pot so challenging is that it forces the body to react to the constant oscillation by stiffening the “pillar”- the kinetic chain that exists between the head and the feet. Maintaining this level of contraction for an extended period of time can be exhaustive, but helps to train your core to increase its contractile strength and endure periods of instability. The nature of the movement will also force you maintain an even pace of movement – going too fast will cause you to lose control, but going too slow will exhaust you prematurely.
Due to the increased time under tension of the stir-the-pot, you can get plenty of results by keeping the number of revolutions per direction to between 10 and 15. As we will want to avoid technical failure as much as possible, increasing the number of sets performed will be a more efficient and safer way to increase total volume as opposed to performing more revolutions. A word of warning: there will be soreness after the first (and maybe even second) time you do it!