Everything you Need to Know
The Stir the Pot exercise takes the standard floor based plank to the next level.
As with all plank based exercises the main goal is to prevent the hips from dropping towards the floor. There are a series of core muscles that prevent this hip extension from happening. All these core muscles need to work together in order to keep the body in line and prevent gravity from forcing the hips to the floor.
The Plank Progression
Everyone should start with the standard floor based plank and concentrate on feeling the plank in the core muscles of the front and sides. If you feel the plank in your back muscles then your back extensors are doing more work than they should be and you are compensating for either weak core muscles or bad position.
If you do feel the plank in your lower back then first try adjusting your hip level by raising your buttocks slightly, if this doesn’t help then stop the exercise and rest.
One common mistake is to have the elbows too far underneath the body. Check your elbow position and make sure that they are directly underneath your armpits. To make the exercise even more difficult push the elbows even further forwards.
Beginners can start with short rounds of only 10 – 15 seconds but repeat 3-4 times with 15 seconds rests.
To take the plank to the next level and increase the demands on the core muscles you can add some instability. Adding a slightly moving surface under either your feet or your hands will activate the stabilising muscles more aggressively and cause further muscle recruitment as the body struggles to gain equilibrium.
Once you add an unstable base you will immediately notice the difference and you should ensure you follow the same rules as with the regular plank. Make sure the hips are in the right place and that the elbows are underneath the armpits.
Again if you feel the plank in the lower back either adjust position or stop immediately.
You can try a plank with elbows on a stability ball, on a BOSU ball or a regular plank but with one foot raised in the air. I don’t believe in holding planks for long periods of time so try for 30 – 45 seconds for 3 rounds.
The final plank progression involves increasing the instability on the base even further either by moving the hands or the feet. You can see a good example of this in the “Stir the Pot” exercise video above. With this exercise I not only have the instability of the ball underneath the arms but also the circular movement that increases the demands even further.
Progression is Vital
As with all core based training programs, progression is the key. You must first learn to activate your core muscles correctly before increasing the demands. Failure to follow this procedure will result in severe compensations and lower back injury.
If you want to know how to progress your core and abs training from the beginning then you can follow my 4 Week Essential Core & Abs program.
Good luck and enjoy your core training.