You may think ab crunches, reverse leg raises or planks will get you a strong core, and you might be right. But one expert personal trainer has revealed the core exercise he thinks doesn’t get the love it deserves.
Before you think the core exercise – which comes courtesy of British personal trainer James Smith, who cuts through all the bulls**t fitness advice posted online – is going to be as terrifying as the weighted leg crunches we reported on the other day, you can let your worries slide. This one is much easier.
Taking to Tiktok, James says his most underrated core exercise is called ‘stir the pot’ or ‘stirring the pot,’ depending on who you listen to, but they both refer to the same exercise.
Essentially a variation of a plank or a reach-out plank, the stir the pot exercise requires you to have an exercise ball. If you don’t have an exercise ball, but you do have access to a Bosu ball (which looks like an exercise ball cut in half) then it can work just as well.
To perform the stirring the pot exercise, James said “get your forearms onto the ball, put your hands together or keep them wherever you want.”
The, “bring yourself into a high plank position. Remember, you don’t want to sag, you don’t want to extend. If anything, you’re going to want to tuck your tailbone slightly.”
“From there you’re going to imagine you’ve got a wooden spoon and a pot, thus the name, stirring the pot. Get yourself on top and you’re going to make very small stirs on the pot.” It might look simple enough, but the stir the pot exercise will seriously torch your core, as it not only requires you to engage it for stabilisation whilst balancing on the unstabilised exercise ball, but the stirring motion will recruit your entire core region.
But, you can make it more difficult if you wish. How exactly? Allow James to explain,
“To make it more difficult, you’re going to make that pot or that spoon stir wider. So, on top, slightly tucked tailbone. Bigger circles. For those of you that have got a slightly weaker core, start off small and then work up from there.”
When you come to performing the stir the pot exercise for yourself, start with 6 full rotations in both directions. As you become more confident with it, you can start increasing the number of rotations you perform.
Why does James love the stir the pot exercise so much? He explains that the beginning of his video, “In a lot of core exercises we look at anti-extension. We look at preventing from extending. If you’re doing things that are overhead that’s a great idea. But for any of you that are perhaps in other sports or just want to stabilise your core more, you get stirring the pot.”
As we mentioned earlier, if you don’t have a full-size exercise ball, then you can still perform the pot stirring using a Bosu ball. If you’re using a Bosu ball, then get yourself into the same high plank position, but instead of resting your forearms on the top surface, grab hold of the Bosu ball on either side. Keep your hands in this position – think of it as 3 and 9 on a clock – and use your weight to move the Bosu ball around in circles.
It’s important you make sure your body is in the correct plank position when performing stir the pot. It can be incredibly easy to allow your hips to drop down. If they do, you’re not going to reap the benefits of this great core exercise. It’s also important to make sure you keep the tempo slow and controlled throughout the duration. Don’t speed up just to get through the reps.