Me: “This move is called Sunrise, Sunset.”
Client: “Oh, funny. I was in Fiddler on the Roof many years ago. I didn’t realize it would come back to haunt me in this form.”
During Sunrise Sunset, you lie face-up with arms and legs extended toward the ceiling and a stability ball in your hands. You open, lowering arms and legs toward the floor, then close and pass the ball from hands to ankles. Then, you open again, and repeat, passing the ball from hands to ankles each time.
Then, you whine and cry and flop around in pain. It’s a challenging move.
One can see why this move is called Sunrise, Sunset, because as you pass the stability ball from hands to feet and open long each time, the ball arcs like a sunrise and a…. well, a sunset. And it’s beyond me to come up with a name that’s any better and doesn’t involve complicated lingo. I suppose I could call it “ab and hip and shoulder extension with pull-over utilizing stability ball.”
My client’s comment made me chuckle, and made her lose her focus, but it got me thinking about all the other ridiculously named exercises out there. So I did a little brainstorming and a little digging and came up with my top 5 most oddly-named exercises.
1) DIPSTICKS – aka Pistol Squats
I love dipsticks! I do. To me, they are the ultimate leg exercise and this move also challenges your balance and agility, which means you’re building a strong core. Whenever I see a pistol squat variation, I almost have to try it. See here and here, when I attempted to do some challenging variations!
To do a pistol squat, lift your right bent knee and find your balance on your left leg. Engage your core and lower with control as far as you can. You’ll need to adjust your center of gravity to keep your balance, and keep your heel down on the supporting leg. The lifted leg extends forward and provides some counter-balance.
MAKE IT EASIER: Sit on a chair, lift one leg, then practice standing up using only one leg.
Many of my clients do a variation of Inchworm as a warm-up! It is gentle enough to use as a start to your workout, it uses body weight so no equipment is required, and it works most major muscles.
To do an Inchworm, hinge forward at the hips. You can bend your knees a bit or keep your legs mostly straight. Place your hands on the floor, then ‘walk’ your hands forward until you are in push-up position. Try not to lumber side to side as you walk your hands forward; use your core to stabilize and keep a neutral spine – neither rounded nor arched.
From there, keep your core braced and walk your feet to your hands. If you have tight hamstrings, you’ll need to bend your knees as you do this.
The variation my clients do often is to walk the hands forward, then walk the hands back to the feet – so the feet stay in one position and never move. Either way, this exercise is fantastic!
MAKE IT HARDER: Once you’re in push-up position, you might as well do some push-ups.
MAKE IT EASIER: Bend your knees as you walk your hands forward and walk your feet up to your hands.
3) SISSY SQUATS
When I heard the name Sissy Squats, the first thing I said was, “THAT’S NOT NICE!”
The second thing I said was, naturally, “I HAVE TO TRY THAT.”
I discovered Sissy Squats while searching for exercises that directly target the quadriceps, as most leg exercises focus mostly on the posterior-chain muscles, the hamstrings and quads. Sissy Squats, aptly named, are difficult to do properly. Done with bad form, they can be hell on your knees, so proceed with caution.
To do Sissy Squats, place your heels shoulder-width apart on the edge of a low block. (I placed my heels on dumbbell handles). Keep your toes on the floor and aligned forward. Now, bend your knees slightly and at the same time lean back until your body forms a straight line from neck to knees. You can put both hands on your hips, or if you need help with balance, hold onto something for support with one hand.
Continue to lower your body backward as your knees bend, keeping that straight line from knees to neck at all times. Lower as far as you safely can, then push back up to the starting position.
Then yell, “Holy Quads, Batman!” Because you’re gonna feel your quads major big time. BUT, you shouldn’t feel pain. If you do, try this again another time after you’ve built up more leg strength and endurance.
By the way, it turns out the name Sissy Squats isn’t at all about name-calling. They’re named after Sisyphus, the mythical Greek king who was doomed by Zeus to push rocks up a hill for all of eternity? Yeah, him. He might’ve been a class A a-hole, but say what you will, he had some really hawt quads.
4) BEAR CRAWL
Same client, another story…
Me: Ok, keep your abs tight as you bear crawl.
Client: Bears don’t give a shit about their abs.
She might have a point, but I was all like, “How do you know? Maybe all bears think about are their abs! YOU DON’T KNOW,” I screamed while she bear crawled faster
to get away from me.
Seeing as I’m all about Quick & Dirty Workouts, I love dynamic compound exercises that pack a punch, and bear crawl is one of them. If you want an exercise that builds strength AND endurance in your core, chest, shoulders and triceps, AND builds agility, AND gets your heart rate up, you want bear crawls.
20 seconds in and you’ll be like “f*ck bears and the crawl they came in on!”
Calm down, Laura.
To do bear crawls, get onto hands and knees with your hands directly under your shoulders, then rise up onto your feet. “Crawl” forward on hands and feet, keeping your core muscles engaged. That’s all there is to it! You can crawl forward, easier, or backward which is harder!
MAKE IT HARDER: Place a dumbbell under your chest. Grab it with one hand and set it down as far in front of you as you can. Bear crawl forward until you’re over the dumbbell, then pick it up and move it forward with the other hand. Alternate hands.
5) HINDU PUSH-UPS
Sometimes confused with the Divebomber push-up, the Hindu Push-Up goes far beyond a regular push-up to also work your hamstrings and glutes. And, they also work triceps, pectorals, deltoids, abs and back more than regular bodyweight push-ups because of their increased range of motion.
To do Hindu Push-Ups, assume a normal push-up position, but with your feet placed a bit wider than shoulder-width apart. Next, keep your arms, legs, and back straight as you press back into an inverted V, or downward facing dog position in yoga. This is your starting position, and it’s the position to which you’ll return after each push-up.
Bend your elbows so that your body comes forward. Next, lower your hips toward the floor as you begin to arch your spine and lift your head toward the ceiling. Straighten your arms, as you end in a position that resembles upward facing dog pose in yoga. Then, keep your arms straight as you lift your hips and press back to the starting position.
Aim to do this exercise smoothly.
Yeah, sure. No problem.
It’s during the descent that you’ll notice the need for serious strength and flexibility to do this exercise properly. As always, safety first – if regular push-ups, or inverted push-ups, are still very challenging for you, proceed with caution when trying Hindu Push-Ups.
There are more oddly-named exercises, but those 5 make the top of my list!
In fact, I think together they’d made a great Quickie Workout! Stay tuned for that!