Friday, December 10, 2010

My Core Sequence, Part 3: Lower Body Figure Eights

If you haven't already, first read Core Strength and Me and Introduction to Isolating Movement.

Figure eights are probably the most complicated and difficult movements in the sequence, so make sure you have a good handle on Lower Body Linear Movements before you get yourself frustrated with this.  Do not attempt to learn this without a mirror.  Remember to start with ten movements on each side, or twenty total.


Basic Figure Eights

Remember the Pendulum?  This movement comes from that.  The difference is that you will not drop your hip on your way back to zero position.  You will keep your hip up until you get to zero position.  So essentially, you will be making a big upward circle on one side, then another on the other side.  Start in the same position as you would for the Pendulum, do not forget your good posture.  Bring your hip up as you let it slide out to the side as usual.  Now slide your hips back to your centerline without dropping your hip.  This should remind you of Up and Down.  Now that you are here, come back to neutral position and repeat the movement exactly on the opposite side.  When you put both sides together into one movement, you should see your hips making a sideways figure eight (or infinity symbol) in the mirror in front of you.

Inverted Figure Eights

This is to the Inverted Pendulum as the previous movement is to the regular Pendulum.  You will start the movement exactly as you would the Inverted Pendulum only maintain your hip down as you return it to your center line (also like the Up and Down).  You will pass through neutral position on your centerline as you repeat the movement on the other side.

Stationary Twist

This is not a figure eight, but has the same relation to the Twisting Figure Eight as the Up and Down has to the Figure Eight.  Stand at neutral position in good posture.  Without moving from your center line (neither side to side, nor forward or backward) facing the mirror, twist your hips such that one hip comes forward and the other goes backward.  Now repeat on the other side.  It can be difficult to do this in good posture if you're not used to it, so really fight for it.  It will be impossible to keep your whole rib cage still with this particular movement, so just try to keep your chest and shoulders in the same place.

Twisting Figure Eight

The figure eight in this movement will be parallel to the floor, with each hip making one of the circles and the center being at neutral position.  Start from neutral position.  Do one side of your Stationary Twist.  Now, bring your rear hip in a circle, parallel to the floor, toward the front as you twist.  Now that hip should be in front, your other hip to the rear, and you should be back at your centerline.  Repeat the movement on the opposite side, bringing that hip in a circle from the rear to the front as you twist and return to your centerline.  Again, try and keep your chest and shoulders still.

Reverse Twisting Figure Eight

This is exactly like the previous movement only you will bring your hips in circles that travel from the front to the rear as you twist.  Do not move your chest or shoulders.

Bicycle Hips

This is a tough one.  There is no figure eight in this movement.  Your hips will make alternating circles in a forward, downward motion just as your feet would if you were pedaling a bike.  You will be using a combination of Up and Downs and Stationary Twists.  This is a smaller movement, so you should be able to keep still from the diaphragm down.  Start with the first half of your Up and Down motion so that one hip is high and the other low.  Now, twist your high hip forward and your low hip backward while your bring both hips level with eachother (parallel to the ground).  At this point, you should be half way into a Stationary Twist and your Up and Down will be neutral.  Continue the downward, forward circular motion with the hip that was up, and the backward, upward circular motion with the hip that was down until the low hip is up and the high hip is down.  That is one half of the movement.  Repeat on the other side.  Your hips should be circling forward and down to mimic two feet pedaling a bicycle.  Your body should not be moving up and down or side to side.  All the work will be in your legs for movement and your lower torso for keeping your upper torso still throughout the movement.  It is easy to lose posture during this movement, so once you get a feel for it, really fight for that good posture.

Awesome Tip of the Day:  This really is a lot of leg work.  Stretch those legs, especially your quadriceps, before you do your Core Sequence.  It is a good idea to also stretch out your hips and torso in any direction you can think of.  Take a break and shake out your legs if they're starting to burn.  As you become comfortable with the movements, you will make be able to do a greater range of motion, which should slowly increase your flexibility.  Stretch.

Reverse Bicycle Hips

No explanation required.  This is exactly the same as the previous movement only your hips will be pedaling backward.

Snake Hips

I know, snakes don't have hips.  What you're looking for is a rolling movement that, from the side, resembles a figure eight combined with a pendulum.  It definitely rolls more than a pendulum, but it is not as clear as a figure eight.  It is snake-like movement.  Remember the Front to Back Slide.  Start with that.  Bring your hips forward.  As you reach the end of your motion, tilt your pelvis upward.  Now, when you go backward, try to do it in a rolling motion starting from the middle of your back and ending at your sacrum.  As you bring your body forward again, start by pushing out your stomach just below your diaphragm and rolling all the way out to your hips.  When your put the whole thing together, you should have a nice rolling motion that is equal on the front and back sides.

Inverted Snake Hips

This is the same idea as the previous motion.  Starting from neutral position, tilt your hips upward and push them forward.  When you reach the extent of your range, tilt your hips downward and push them out toward the back.  Tilt them forward again as you bring them forward.  This should help you achieve the upward rolling motion with your body that should move from your pelvis to your middle back.  Try to keep your chest and shoulders still, more if you can.  Make sure that you count these like the figure eights, one count for the front and one for the back.  That helps you mentally emphasize both sides of the movement instead of focusing more on one half or the other.

My Core Sequence, Part 4: Upper Body Linear Movements


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