The hard part is over. You made it to the gym and that’s usually half the battle. Now that you’re there, what are you going to do? This is where a lot of people get stuck but don’t worry, I’ve got your back.
This is part six of a six-part series that focuses on the exercises that give you the biggest bang for your buck in and outside the gym. If you’ve missed the previous parts, please click on the links below.
Part six – Groundwork
There’s more to groundwork than just lying on the ground and crunching like a mad monkey. Being on the ground is how we learned to move as infants and returning to the floor can help you reactivate neglected movement patterns such as squats, pushing and hinging.
Pretty good for a monkey, right?
The ground provides you with stability, balance and feedback and is an ideal place to start your warm up before you crush the weights. Or you can incorporate this into your resistance training for some added spice and sweat.
Groundwork exercises cover a wide spectrum that includes core work, rolling, crawling, rocking to the Turkish Get -Up. It’s beyond the scope of this post to go into all types of groundwork exercises. However, the moves I’ve selected below are the ones I program for my clients on a regular basis.
These exercises will help improve your technique with squats, hinges, pushes and pulls as well as improving your stability/mobility and your ability to burn fat. These moves may get you some strange looks on the gym floor but you’ll be the coolest person in the gym.
Trust me, I’m a trainer.
With all the big compound movements (squats, pressing pulling, carries etc.) you’ll require good core stability and the ability for your core to resist movement while lifting weights. This is where the deadbug comes in. The low back and your anterior core should remain stable as your moving your opposite arm and opposite leg. This is a must in most people’s exercise programs.
2. Push up plank
Planks are not the sexiest exercise and are usually avoided by gym goers at all costs because they suck. Experienced exercisers often think they’re “too advanced” for the plank because they feel that there are other core exercises that are more effective.
However, before brushing this exercise off, here’s a little challenge for you. If you can hold this plank for 2 minutes, then go ahead and train your core with all the other cooler exercises. If you cannot, you’ve still got some work to do.
3. Six-point rocking
This exercise is like a squat with your toes, knees and hands on the ground. Therefore, it’s great to include in your warm up before you squat. And if this feels great, then squat to your little heart’s content. However, if it doesn’t, you should reconsider your squat workout and dial it back.
Although crawling on the floor makes you look like a baby, this movement ties together your hips, core, shoulders and helps in grain our natural contra lateral movement (opposite arm/opposite leg) pattern that you need for walking, running and sprinting.
You must really work to be able to breathe, keeping your head up while keeping the contra lateral pattern of crawling. It’s tougher than it looks because it is a subtle form of strength training. However, just brush off the weird looks you’re bound to get because you’re too cool for school.
This is how we used to move as babies but rolling has real benefits for grownups, too. Rolling combines the use of the upper body, core, and lower body in a coordinated manner to move from your tummy to your side and to your back while being safely on the floor.
There are many movements that require the coordinated use of our arms and legs, which is why this is a great movement to include in your warm up. Furthermore, rolling will help improve your shoulder/hip mobility and will help roll out those sore spots without the use of a foam roll.
6. Getting up and down
Here is a little test for you. Stop reading now and sit down to the ground and then stand back up without using your hands or knees. Don’t worry I’ll wait. It sounds simple but there’s a catch. You will subtract a point from 5 each time you use a hand or your knee during this test.
Get down (- 1 for each hand/knee from 5)
Get up (-1 for each hand/knee from 5)
Total (Your score, up to 10)
If you get a score of 8 and above, you’ve got nothing to worry about. If you score 7 or below, you have some work to do, so please keep practicing. This exercise is great to insert into your warm up or as an alternative for traditional cardio. Don’t believe me? Do it for 2 minutes straight and then check your pulse.
Rolling, rocking, crawling and deadbugging on the floor may seem a little nuts to you. People may look at you funny and you may feel like your one-year old without the diapers and drool.
However, none of that matters because you will be improving your strength, mobility, stability and your cat like reflexes. Move over Cat women.