By Tony Gracia, Head Coach and Co-Founder at Industrial Strength.

This series of articles highlights fifteen of my favorite exercises that I think are awesome and do not get the appreciation they deserve.  The first week of installments focused on major lower body strength developers, the second week on upper body strength movements, the third week on unilateral lower body strength exercises, the fourth week on various functional strength and athletic development exercises, and this final week on core strength.

UNDERRATED EXERCISE #13 = Bodysaw

One of the most important and also misunderstood areas in the fitness industry is that of core strengthening.  Everyone has heard of it, everyone knows that it is important, and yet most people really do not have much of a clue about how to do it.  In general, the idea should be that your core muscles stabilize your midsection (spine, pelvis, and rib cage) and hold them steady while your arms and legs move.  In other words, the job of core strengthening is usually to train your core to RESIST unwanted motion at the spine, pelvis, and rib cage, rather than to generate motion. This is a bit of an oversimplification, but good enough for our purposes here.

Along that line of thinking, my favorite core exercises all work on your body’s ability to resist unwanted motion through your midsection.  Some of these exercises have a low level of complexity and are really just about how strong you can get, while others strike a balance between both creating muscular tension paired with dynamic sequencing / timing to create coordinated total body movements.

In this installment I will cover the bodysaw, which is a brutally hard core strengthening exercise that is low on complexity and high on tension.  The primary benefit of these will be to directly strengthen the muscles on the front of your core (mostly your abs) to help you resist unwanted extension in your body.  Strong abs are crucial for many exercises like pull ups, push ups, military press, squats, deadlifts, and kettlebell swings, so you can expect good carryover from the bodysaw to those other lifts.  Also, these can leave you wicked sore, so do not book tickets to any comedy shows the day or two after you train these.

HOW TO DO THEM

  • Assume a plank position on your elbows with your feet on sliders (or on a towel on a wood floor). Make sure the following things are checked off in your start position:
    • Make fists with your pinky on the floor and your thumb up
    • Forearms are parallel to each other and are in-line with the shoulders – do not let the wrists come inwards or the elbows go outwards
    • Your spine is neutral (including your neck)
    • The distance between your bottom ribs and your pelvis is consciously shortened slightly – THIS MUST NOT CHANGE AT ANY POINT DURING THE SET
    • Your quads are gluts are engaged and squeezed relatively tight
    • Your feet are hip width or slightly narrower
  • Once you have set up correctly, dig your arms into the floor to slide backwards, meaning the distance from your elbows to your toes is increasing
  • Slide back far enough that you can barely maintain the distance between your bottom rib and your pelvis and hold that for a 2-count or 3-count
  • Dig your elbows into the ground hard to pull yourself back to the start position, and rest there for a moment before doing the next rep
  • I recommend 5-10 reps per set for 2-4 sets