Pulling from the Stability Chair to Strengthen on the Mat: Side Leg Extension

By: Carla Ricalis

We’re doing it again – pulling from a challenging, advanced level exercise to see if we can access some great foundational movement to build strength, endurance, stamina and awareness.

Some of you have commented that your clients don’t do the advanced level exercises (or at least the one’s we’ve selected) – but that’s not a problem!

We’re trying to show is how you can take a hard exercise (like this one on the Stability Chair!) and create programming based on the movement patterns that make it so demanding.

When you look at an exercise like Side Leg Extension on the Stability Chair, ask yourself several basic questions:

  1. What is the purpose of this exercise (why are we doing it)?
  2. Where is the stability?
  3. Where is the mobility?
  4. What are at least 3 things I need to make my client aware of?

Here’s how I would answer them for this exercise:

  1. The purpose of the exercise is to challenge upper body strength and endurance with the mobility and stability of the lower body while controlling the pedal.
  2. The stability is in the shoulder girdle, core and one leg
  3. The mobility is in the other leg and arms – specifically shoulders & wrists
  4. Key things to make my client aware of are:
    1. The shift of weight from foot to arms in order to move the pedal
    2. The shift is up and forward – not just forward (following the pedal arc)
    3. The contralateral emphasis on the supporting leg and opposite arm
    4. The importance of keeping their spine long and dynamically stable to active the entire core (posterior and anterior)

How do we incorporate strengthening for these areas into a mat based workout? Check out these 2 exercises for some ideas!

Modified forearm plank using a regular chair

This is a great exercise to create upper body strength and endurance with a shortened lever that will get your clients feeling the connection through their shoulder girdle stabilizers (including serratus anterior, lower trapezius, lats). Plus the shifting single leg movement will provide the awareness needed to move one leg without moving the torso and other, stabilizing leg.

Side plank with variations

A mat work staple, the side planks helps target the shoulder girdle, obliques plus the stabilizers of the bottom hip while emphasizing movement in the top leg. More challenging in many ways than the forearm plank, this can help your client prepare for balance, endurance AND the awareness of how to stay connected to these key muscle groups while moving one part of the body.

Let us know what you think! And if you’re curious for more programming tips, join our Studio3 Working From the Top Down Instructor Workshop on Sunday, June 13 at 10am. Email us at info@studiopower3.ca for more details or to register!