Verstegen “Movement Prep” Series – A closer look

Over the next couple of weeks I will detail some of the exercises (and series of exercises) that I am using in my workouts. Clearly, the disclaimer applies – this is a description of what I am doing an why I am doing it – if you chose to base your own workouts on this, it is at your own risk.

This series is my interpretation of the “Movement Prep” series in Mark Verstegen’s excellent book “Core Performance” (it is worth buying it, even though it is not available for the Kindle…). It is somewhat of a warm-up, so the exercises should not be done to exhaustion. Having said this – many of them can be done with a bit more effort, giving a short standalone workout with at least a little bit of bang.

Hip Crossover

  • That’s the classic Pilates exercise where legs are raised in the table top position (or stretched out to make it harder) and the hip rotates left and right so that the legs get towards the floor. The shoulder blades remain on the floor, and the arms are wide or at a 45 degrees angle.
  • For me this exercise loosens up the hips, and allows some twisting of the spine. It also wakes up the abdominals, especially in the stretched leg version.
  • I tend to do 10 reps each side of those


  • I did not know that one before. Lying on the front, the arms are at 45 degress, and the opposite foot comes towards the hand.
  • This needs some power in the glutes (they should be used actively), and provides a nice stretch on the abdomen, and twist in the spine
  • Again, 10 resp each side

Calf Stretch

  • I am not currently doing this one – I focus on calf stretching specifically from time to time. Might rethink this though in the near future.

Hand Walk

  • Again, a classic Yoga / Pilates pose, but with a twist: from standing the hips are folded until the feet touch the ground. Then the hands walk forward to a downward dog position. This position is held for a while (maybe 5sec) and then the hands walk back, this position is held and it starts all over again.
  • A couple of options: (1) instead of holding downward-dog, push-ups are performed (say 3-5); (2) the cycle ends in a standing position.
  • I am still experimenting with this exercise. I have short hamstrings and I start arching my back at one point, long before my palms hit the ground. I believe it is important to not just hang there, so I keep my back tensed, even if it is not straight. I also might not be able to bring my palms to the floor close to my fit, so I only bring the fingertips down. Lastly, I might not keep my legs straight
  • This is a nice combination exercise which builds strength in the back, the shoulders, and the arms, and which stretches the hamstrings and the calfs.
  • I am doing about 5 reps – this is a longer exercise, and it is painful

Inverted Hamstring

  • That’s one of the Yoga Warrior positions: stand on one leg, then fold at the hip, bringing the other leg up whilst the torso goes down (and torso and hip form a nice line). Hands can go to the knee, or to the side, or to the front
  • This exercise can also be performed on a stability ball
  • This is a nice balance / stability exercise, especially on the ball. It is also good for strength along the shoulders (with hands up), back and posterior chain, and it somewhat stretches the hamstrings (if the position can be held reasonably steadily – there are better hamstring stretches out there)
  • I tend to to 3x each side and hold 10-15sec

Lateral Lunge

  • I haven’t fully figured this one out – it is essentially a wide step to the side with one leg long, and the other knee flexed. However, this can put some nasty rotations on the knee and I am still working on ways how to best do this.
  • I often like to do this with a hip twist, where the side lunge becomes a regular lunge

Forward Lunge (OH weight 6kg)

  • Classic lunge: one foot forward, knee to 90 degrees angle, shin straight (very important). Back knee goes down – either all the way to the floor in a short stance, or the back leg stays more straight in a longer stance. Both feet are pointing forward. Both hands are overhead (shoulders down) and a weight is held overhead (I currently use 6kg medball, but kettlebells and weight discs also do the trick).
  • In the standard version, to come out of the position the forward foot comes back, and one ends up in standing (weight still overhead!). In a variation one can “lunge walk” bring the back leg to the front, whilst keeping the hip at the same height.
  • That’s a nice strength exercise for all of the leg muscles, and the posterior chain (glutes should be tight). The weight overhead also makes sure that there is a good connection between the hip and the shoulders, so it is a good postural exercise. It also can give a nice hip flexor stretch
  • I tend to do 5 each side, holding 10-15sec

Backward Lunge with Twist

  • The position is the same as with the forward lunge, except that one is getting into it going backwards. Rather than having a weight overhead, elbows are a the side, have a 90 degress angle, and there is a weight at the front (medball 6kg for me currently, also kettlebells). The hip rotates to the left and to the right as far as possible.
  • Key variation here is again to do walking lunges rather than going back and forth from standing. Also the turns can be done with force, or with (controlled!) momentum
  • Similar to regular lunges. The rotation gives a nice hip-flexibility angle to it. The weight is important to keep the upper body in a nice posture.
  • I tend to do either 10 each side with a bit of momentum, or 5 each side, pulling actively into the rotation for 10-20 secs

Drop Lunge

  • I do not particularly like this one – a lunge with feet crossed. Will revert if I figured out a nice way of doing it.


  • Starting from a low squat position (straight back, or at last strong back so that it is held by the muscles, not the ligaments) legs are extended so that hips go up. The hands (and therefore the shoulders) remain in position – in Verstegen’s version under the feet, in my version in a non-elastic band held with my feet as otherwise my back will round too much.
  • This can be an OK hamstring stretch, and strengthen the torso. I personally somewhat like it, but I need to be very careful that I do not use the strength in the legs to stretch the ligaments in my back, which I believe would be a bad thing
  • I am currently only playing around with this one, maybe 5-10reps and holding in various positions

2 thoughts on “Verstegen “Movement Prep” Series – A closer look

  1. Pingback: WOD Tue 23/Feb – Verstegen Series & Intervals « Thor Falk

  2. Pingback: Core Strength and Mobility Series (after Verstegen) | Thor Falk

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