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The vertical core workout

The best way to work your core is a hotly-debated topic. Some experts argue that crunches and sit-ups are passé—and possibly harmful. Others say that you’re planking all wrong. And now, Alex Zimmerman, director of Equinox’s Tier X program, adds that if you’re doing all your core work on the ground—whether it’s planks, crunches, or some innovative move—you’re missing out. He’s not suggesting you eschew more traditional ab-builders but simply to add in a new component: Vertical Core Training (VCT). Coined by Todd Wright, strength and conditioning coach for the Philadelphia 76ers, it's used to help athletes maximize their potential.

“The basic premise is that you move the body three-dimensionally from an upright position and this allows for increased performance, function, and can reduce the likelihood of injury,” Zimmerman explains. And yes, with these moves you’re challenging your midsection but not for the sake of a six-pack: “This type of work is not aesthetically driven,” he emphasizes. (Which is why you shouldn’t stop planking.)

By training in multiple planes of motion, you give the body what it craves: vector variability, which Zimmerman says creates robust bone structure and fascial systems and coordinates nervous system development and motor control (i.e. the ability to control a dumbbell’s descent after an overhead press).

Perform the following exercises as a dynamic warm-up two to three times per week. Complete two sets of 10 reps of each move, resting minimally. Begin with a very light load: men should start with eight-pound dumbbells and women should begin with five. When the loads get heavier as you master the movements, add in more rest as needed.

Exercises demonstrated by Maria Callanta, Tier X coach at Equinox 92nd Street

Alternating Overhead Reach with Anterior Hip Shift

Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding dumbbells at shoulder height. Press the right arm overhead, simultaneously reaching slightly back behind you and shifting your hips forward. Return to start and alternate sides.

Alternating Overhead Reach with Lateral Hip Shift

Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding dumbbells at shoulder height. Press the dumbbell in your left hand overhead while simultaneously shifting the hips to the right. Return to start and alternate sides.

Alternating Overhead Reach with Hip Rotation

Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding dumbbells at shoulder height. Press the one in your left hand up and over the right shoulder. Return to start and alternate sides.

Forward Step with Alternating Overhead Reach

Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding dumbbells at shoulder height. Step forward with your right foot while simultaneously reaching over your head and slightly back with the right dumbbell. Return to start and alternate sides.

Lateral Step with Alternating Overhead Reach

Stand with feet together, holding dumbbells at shoulder height. Take a small step laterally with your right foot, shifting the hip laterally while reaching overhead with the right dumbbell. Return to start and alternate sides.

Transverse Step with Alternating Overhead Reach

Stand with feet together, holding dumbbells at shoulder height. Step back and out to the side with your right foot, and rotate your trunk in the same direction. Simultaneously reach across your body and slightly overhead with the left dumbbell. Return to start and alternate sides.

Posterior Step with Reach and Trunk Rotation

Stand with feet together, holding dumbbells at shoulder height. Step back with your right foot, and rotate your trunk towards it. Simultaneously reach back and up with the right dumbbell. Return to start and alternate sides. 

Posterior Step with Lateral Hip Shift and Opposite Side Reach

Stand with feet together, holding dumbbells at chest height. Step back with your right foot, and shift hips to the left. Simultaneously reach out directly to the side with the right dumbbell. Return to start and alternate sides.

Posterior Step with Trunk Rotation and Reach

Stand with feet together, holding dumbbells at chest level. Step back with your left foot, rotating trunk toward the right. Simultaneously punch across with your left dumbbell and back with the right. Return to start and alternate sides.

The weight plate workout

8 weight plate exercises that challenge core and grip strength

Body