Celebrate the arrival of spring with a group of friends on a softball field on a sunny day. It’s a lovely ritual and a celebration of fresh air and friendship with a healthy dose of athleticism thrown in. Christi Corbett, Pure Austin Fitness specialist, showed us several exercises to help you can celebrate to your full athletic potential as well. Since softball is a very core-intensive sport, power in the torso is obviously paramount, as is shoulder strength and stability. Corbett demonstrated exercises that will enhance core strength, power, and shoulder girdle strength and stability.
First, she demonstrated a plank with knee to opposite elbow. This classic move can be done anywhere, with intensity largely self-controlled by the amount of precision with which you imbue the exercise. Position yourself in a plank position (i.e., top of a push-up) with shoulders over wrists and feet about hips- distance apart. Pull your right knee in and over to your left elbow, all the way to touch it if you can. Now kick out your leg – that’s right, kicks it out! Yowza! Keep your navel back into your spine and really get that knee up there. Touch the elbow! Repeat 15 times, then switch sides.
Corbett then showed us a great exercise for lateral leg strength – a static lateral lunge with an upright row. Corbett bends her knee, sticks her butt out, and keeps her chest lifted to keep great form while lowering to the side, her knee staying behind her toes. Keep focus on the glutes and hamstrings here by driving through the heel to come back to standing, while completing an upright row with the weight. For this version of the lateral lunge, Corbett dips low and taps the weight down to make sure she gets a complete range of motion – the best work is done in those last couple of inches! For this reason, Corbett recommends either using a weighted bar with plates, a dumb- bell, or a mat placed to provide a platform about six inches off the ground so that you get physical feedback when you have gone low enough. Do 15 reps to this side, then switch to the other side.
The torso rotation exercise that Corbett demonstrates is a fundamental exercise in any program to build core strength. Here, Corbett has tied a band to a pole at shoulder height. This exercise could be done with a cable-cross machine, and the height of the band can vary to change the angle at which the exercises are worked. She lunges the outside leg forward, with knee over foot. She stays in this leg position throughout the exercise. Her arms are extended, and in the starting position there is light tension on the band. She twists across the bent leg, keeping her arms straight and using her torso to initiate the movement. Twisting feels great and is highly applicable to hitting a home run! Repeat 15 times to each side.
To further focus on the theme of torso power, strength, and stability, Corbett uses a weighted medicine ball with handles to perform a “woodchop” exercise. This could also be done with a regular medicine ball or a dumbbell. Starting with feet hips-width apart, twist to the right, bringing the weight down to your side while bending your knees and turning your feet. Then extend the weight back out to the left, while twisting your torso and turning your feet in that direction. Perform 15-20 reps in one direction, then switch sides.
Corbett then kicks our butt with a tough exercise for the shoulders using a weighted body bar. You will want to keep it light for this exercise at first, as this is a real burner. She holds the body bar in front of her level with her shoulders and then rotates each side independently so the bar is making a figure 8 motion. Another way to visualize this is that each side of the bar is drawing a small circle at the same time, but each is going in the opposite direction. Repeat 20-30 seconds in each direction. This exercise will help strengthen the muscles in the shoulder area. Keep in mind that you will want to keep it light!