Verstegen “PreHab” Series – A closer look

This is the second installment of my description of 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 “PreHab” series in Mark Verstegen’s excellent book “Core Performance” (it is worth buying it, even though it is not available for the Kindle…). This series is generally done after the initial warm-up (eg the Movement Prep Series). It can be done light if it is just before a regular workout. This series however lends itself to be a bona-fide workout in its own right, assuming that weights, reps and/or tempo are upped appropriately.

Physioball IYWTL

  • Hip is supported on a physioball, body is one straight line from head to toes. Arms are hanging to the floor, and they are raised and lowered repeatedly, in patterns depending on the letter. “I”: arms to the front, in a straight line overhead. “Y”: like “I”, but arms form a 30-45 degrees angle. “W”: hands next to shoulders, elbows bent. “T”: arms are straight and go to the side (like “I” and “Y” but at 180 degrees angle). “L”: first elbows raise to the same position as in the “T”, but hands stay below elbows. Then arms are turned so that hands come up straight, into a “pitchform position” (would the elbows be flexed at this point one would end up in the “T”. Hands can be weighted with light weights.
  • Those exercises work the muscles of the and between the shoulders (key supporting muscles for many of the press movements, especially bench press). It also works general core stability.
  • I tend to do 10 reps (as 1×10, 2×5, or 3×3; break 5-10s) of each exercise with a weight of 2-3kg. If this is part of my main workout I use slightly higher weights (3-5kg) and/or higher reps (up to 25, in various combinations)

Physioball Push-Up

  • Regular push-ups, with the hands on the physio ball (hands press the ball slightly from the outside, palms pointing inwards)
  • This exercise becomes significantly more difficult with the following variations: (1) Hand position: the closer the hands go together the more difficult it becomes, (2) Foot position: ditto, (3) Ball size: the smaller the ball, the more difficult (a medball can also be used)
  • It is like a push-up, except that (depending on the hand position) is is slightly easier on the standard push-up muscles, but harder on the stabiliser muscles
  • I tend to do 10 reps. If it is main workout, then 30-50 reps, in various combinations.

Glute Bridge

  • The classic (Pilates and other exercise): starting position is flat on the back, with knees bent, and feet hipwide apart. Then the hip is lifted up to the point where the leg is in line with the torso. Note that this is not a rolling up through the spine in this case – back is fixed, and the movement comes from the glutes.
  • Variation: the exercise becomes more difficult if it is done on one leg, either (a) hovering the second foot over the floor where it would be standing in the regular version, or (b) keeping the second leg straight and in line with the torse all the time
  • Key work is done in the gluts, but the whole core is working, especially in the one-legged versions
  • I tend to do 10 reps, and hold under tension on the top for a second or two.

Superdog

  • Starting on all fours, opposite arm on leg are lifted, building a straight line (think “Superman” hand), keeping back straight, until they form a straight line with the torso. Abs are tight.
  • Works glutes, shoulders, back and abs.
  • I tend to do 10 reps each side, not alternating. If in main workout, maybe 20-25 reps, really pull at the end (glutes, back, shoulders down) and keep it there for 10-15s

Mule Kick

  • Starting on all fours, one leg is lifted as high as possible, using the glutes (knee remains flexed). Abs are tight.
  • Mainly glutes, also back, abs and shoulders.
  • I tend to do 10 reps each side, not alternating. If in main workout, maybe 20-25 reps, really pull at the end (especially glutes; back, abs and shoulders tight) and keep it there for 5-10s

Fire Hydrant

  • Starting on all fours, one leg is lifted to the side as hight as possible (knee remainds flexed). Just imagine a dog doing his business at a fire-hydrant, therefore the name. Abs are tight.
  • Mainly the hip muscles the pull your leg to the side (name?) and glutes, also back, abs and shoulders.
  • I tend to do 10 reps each side, not alternating. If in main workout, maybe 20-25 reps, really pull at the end (especially glutes and hip; back, abs and shoulders tight) and keep it there for 5-10s.

Knee-to-Chest

  • Starting on all fours, one knee is pulled to the chest. Shin remains parallel to the floor (hence knee is flexed even more) and lower back does not move. Really. Not at all (meaning this movement is not actually that big for many people).
  • Mainly abs, also glutes, back, and shoulders. Also a lower back / hamstring stretch.
  • I tend to do 10 reps each side, not alternating and hold at the end for 10-20s. If in main workout, maybe 10-15 reps, really pull and hold at the end to get into the stretch for 30-60s.

Quadruped Circles

  • I dont do those as I cant do them cleanly. I replaced them with Superdog … Knee-to-Chest

Side Lying Abduction

  • Starting position is lying on the side with a straight body. Upper leg is raised and lowered, without losing tension. The remainder to the body remains still, in particular the hips
  • Mainly the hip abductors are working, also the core muscles
  • I tend to do 10x each side, or 2×10 (those muscles are weak with me)

Side Lying Adduction

  • Starting position is lying on the side with the top leg crossing over, and the foot placed on the floor in front of the bottom leg. The bottom leg is raised and lowered, without losing tension. The remainder to the body remains still, in particular the hips.
  • As a variation, the top leg can be lifted and remain on top, and the bottom leg is raised to touch it, squeezing the legs together at the top, before it is lowered again
  • Mainly the hip adductors are working, also the core muscles
  • I tend to do 10x each side, or 2×10 (those muscles are weak with me)

Plank

  • The starting position of a push-up (hands on the floor under the shoulders with elbows extended, torso in one straight line) is statically held. Alternatively it is possible not to put the weight on the hands but to flex the elbows and put the weight on the elbows and forearms.
  • Variations are (a) rocking backwards and forwards from the feet, (b) lifting one leg, (c) lifting one arm, (d) lifting opposite side arm and leg, and (e) lifting same side arm and leg (really!)
  • All core muscles are working, as well as the shoulders and potentially the arms. In the one-arm or leg version also the back and the transverse muscles.
  • As a warm-up I tend to hold for 30s-1min. As a full exercise I tend to hold 2-3min, with a view on getting to 5min.

Side Plank

  • Like the plank, but on the side. Again, one can rest on the hand with extended elbows, or on the forearm with flexed elbows. Feet can be on top of each other, or one a slightly in front of the other to achieve better stability.
  • Variation: the top leg is raised.
  • In particular the muscles on the side of the torso are working, also the core in general
  • I tend to do half the time I do for the plank on each of the two sides, ie either 15-30s as a warm-up, or 1-2min as a full exercise
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2 thoughts on “Verstegen “PreHab” Series – A closer look

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

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