By Mike Kubas
Winter’s here and we all know beach bodies are made well before the summer season hits, so it’s a great time to start ramping up the core exercises! With that said, we’re also overdue to be hit with some serious snow this winter, so might as well kill two birds with one stone, and tailor your extra core work to also improve on your snow removal techniques. Here are some great exercises that will not only get your abs shredded, but also make shoveling snow feel like a walk in the park!
I’ve talked about farmer’s carries before, but suitcase carries hit the core even harder. This is basically a single arm farmers carry. Grab a heavy kettlebell, but not too heavy that you need to lean in order to carry it. Maintain a neutral posture and strong grip, with core braced and shoulders down and back, and carry it a predetermined distance, then repeat on the other side. The offset load mimics the offset load you experience when shoveling large amounts of snow and really gets the core firing.
Low to High Chops
This exercise most closely mimics actually shoveling snow. You can use a rope attachment and set the cable to the lowest setting near the floor. From here you stand perpendicular to the cable, grab both ends of the rope and with minimal bend in your arms, lift the rope diagonally across your body and over your shoulder much like if you were loading up a shovel with heavy, wet snow and tossing it into your annoying neighbor’s driveway. You can rotate some with your hips for a little more movement or try to keep them squared to challenge more core stability.
Squat + Lifts
This one is the same set up as the low to high chops, but you’re going to add some hip movement to it by dropping into a squat on each rep and exploding up with the rope, raising it across your body and over your shoulder before returning into your squat again.
This anti-rotation exercise is great for core stability and eliminating low back pain, as it hits the deeper abdominal muscles. Most effective with a band, you’ll need to tie the band around a stable object and set up perpendicular to it. With two hands on the band, walk out until you have sufficient tension, then push the band out away from you so your arms are straight and the band is pulling you back towards it. From here, tense up your core and move rapidly from shoulder to shoulder in a bouncing type fashion. The goal is to create movement from your shoulders and t-spine and keep your core and hips stationary against the movement. Using 20-30 reps or performing repetitions for time are both effective. This one you’ll really feel in the obliques if you’re doing it right.
Low to high plate chops are essentially the same as the chops mentioned above, only less equipment. Don’t have cables at home? Grab a weight plate, medicine ball, or even a dumbbell and start in an athletic position with the weight off to the side on one hip. Then raise the plate across your body, over your shoulder just as you would when shoveling snow. Control the weight all the way to the top and on the way back down. DO NOT let go of the weight and let it fly over your shoulder. Repeat for the other side, 10-15 repetitions are most effective.
Another great anti-rotation exercise, you just need a barbell and something to press one end of it against. For this exercise, you’ll put one end of the barbell in the attachment or against the wall and grab the other end. Stand at the end of the bar, holding it with two hands and press the bar away from you. From here, with minimal bend in your arms, lower the bar to one side under control. You should feel the abs on the opposite side start firing. Go as far as you can with control and with your hips remaining stationary, then bring the bar back to the center, pause, then go to the other side. This movement is great for building anti-rotational strength and injury prevention. Anti-rotational strength is essential to reduce injury risk with any shoveling being done this winter.
There you have it, your winter workout guide to shredded obliques and injury-free shoveling. Hopefully you won’t have to apply too many of the snow shoveling benefits this winter and can just enjoy fantastic looking abs in a few short months!
Photo credit (top image): Flickr/Alan Kotok