Exercises You Should Be Doing: Alligator Walk
Lets play a simple game today. Lets pretend you’re me, and someone came up to you and asked the following question:
Tony, why don’t you like crunches?
WWTS (What Would Tony Say)?
- I want to roll my eyes right now, but my doctor said that if I keep doing it my ocular muscles may spasm and eject my eyeballs.
- I can’t think of anything more I want to do right now than suplex you onto the pavement.
While conventional wisdom could make a case for either one (they’re both phenomenal answers), the professional in me would have to go with the third option:
Well, if you look at the anatomy of the “core,” you’ll see that it represents more of a cross-hatched web, which would indicate that it’s main role, or job, is as a stabilizer.
If it were meant just for flexion (the action of a crunch) then it would be a hamstring – and that’s jus looney talk.
What’s more, since we’re on the topic of flexion – Dr. Stuart McGill has shown convincingly in his research that repeated spinal flexion is the exact mechanism for disc herniation. Quite literally, you only have so many crunches in your spine before something bad happens. Think of a credit card and what happens to it when you bend it back and forth. Eventually, it breaks.
And, lastly, each crunch (or sit-up) places roughly 760 lbs of compressive load on the vertebral discs in the lumbar spine – does that sound remotely healthy?
Double smoke bomb, flash, flash, and I’m out!
I’ve gone out of my way to convince people that there are far superior options than boring ol’ crunches to train your abdominals – type in Pallof Press, Half Kneeling Lift/Chop, or Bodysaw in the search function and you’ll see what I mean.
Today, however, I want to share another great core exercise that gets the TG seal of approval.
What Is It: Alligator Walk
What Does It Do: Outside of doing a superb job at training the anterior core (preventing extension), this is also a great exercise for serratus anterior activation (shoulder health), as well as helps to synchronize stabilization in the entire lumbo-pelvic-hip area. In essence, this is a huge bang-for-your-training-buck exercise!
Key Coaching Cues: First and foremost, it’s important to brace the abdominals and squeeze the glutes throughout – doing so will help keep the body in more of a neutral posture. Secondly, for those who have access to a slideboard, that will make things easier. Simply place both feet on top of the “boot,” and walk back and forth with your hands. For those that don’t have a slideboard, though, the variaton shown in the video is spot on. All you’ll need to do is grab a towel, or paper plate, or Val Slide and perform the same movement as shown in the video.
There are a couple of options here:
1. You can walk back and forth – performing a set number of “strikes” per hand. Say, five strikes per hand forward, then five strikes per hand backwards which would equte to one repetition (shoot for 5-8 total).
2. Go for a pre-determined distance – 25 yards, for instance.
3. Also, for those of you who are little more G6, place a 25 lb plate underneath your feet and drag it that way. It’s masochistic!
I have no real preference, both are equally effective. Try it out today and let me know what you think!