Okay, so maybe that title doesn't quite have the ring to it we hear in Wizard of Oz, but those three exercises are what we are honing in on in today's post.
Additionally, hopefully these variations will remind us all that there are so many ways to work a muscle group. If something doesn't feel right to you, after ensuring you are doing everything 'correctly', then it is time to seek out other variations or other exercises completely. Reach out to me or another trusted fitness professional if you have questions.
Below, let's look at some ways to progress these common and beneficial exercises. If you are just starting out, you may want to check out The 101 Series, where you can take things back to the basics and ensure form, safety, and understanding.
These guys could be an entire novel in on themselves with the amount of variations available it seems, but I wanted to share just two today-- two really powerful progressions.
Adding a stability ball. (Safety first! A ball is an unstable surface.)
Whether staying in place on the ball or adding a slow movement in the arms, you're abs will be on fire
-Again, safety first. This is an advanced exercise. Everything at your own risk.
-Long torso-- drawing belly away from floor, neck in line with spine, breathing.
-Gentle and slow when going into this and out of this (I suggest starting and ending on your knees)
LATERAL LEG WORK
While I wanted a more straightforward exercise name here, since two of these progressions involve more than the standard side leg lift, I went with the more generalized title. Here, find that classic and good for us side leg lift, but also see variations that involve more muscles in the legs, hips, and glutes, as well as an addition of a resistance band to make the classic exercise much more challenging.
-Keeping hip stacked-- aka don't let the top hip roll back, especially challenging when doing a circle or forward/back movement. Contract the glutes and think 'forward' with that top hip.
-Leg lift is parallel not turned out-- aka your knee faces front not up, and it's the side of the leg pressing toward the ceiling
-Control--Tempting to rush and 'plop' in between. Don't!
-Breathe. Always breathe.
Great work for the glutes (butt) and hamstrings (back of upper legs) as well as bonus feel good work for back and release in shoulders and neck.
-Only add the variations below if you can maintain the contraction of the glutes when pressing the hips up
-Think about lengthening the hip flexors as you press up
-Back is neutral on ground in between, no flaring up of rib cage/popping up of low back
As always, everything here and on the videos at your own risk. Safety first.