Stirring The Pot Exercise - The Best Core Movement You Should Be Doing
By: Zack Mathews, NASM - CPT, CES, & PES, PN-L1
The stirring the pot exercise is an amazing core movement using a stability ball. This is a fun variation of a plank that makes your training more exciting…and difficult.
- Start on your knees with your forearms on a stability ball.
- Lift your knees off the ground and walk your feet back until you are full extended and in a normal plank position.
- The main cues you follow with a plank will apply here: Squeeze your abs and glutes to keep tension in your core area.
- Ensure your elbow and shoulder are in line. If your shoulders are going past your elbows you need to push yourself up and roll the ball out.
- Now that you’ve created tension in your core and your shoulders and elbows are aligned, being moving your forearms in a circular motion. This is the “stirring the pot” motion.
Similar to any plank movement, the pot stirrers exercise targets your core muscles that consist of:
- Rectus abdominus
- Erector spinae
- Transverse abdominis
Doing these exercises is going to help strengthen your core muscles which will visually look better and also help with lower back pain.
If you suffer from lower back pain, check out these additional stretches and exercises you can do.
Perform 2 - 3 sets of stability ball stir the pots with either a specific rep range or time.
For reps, do 6 - 8 full circles going both directions. For time, 15 - 20 seconds each direction will get you in the 6 - 8 rep range.
To make this exercise harder you can make bigger circles. The bigger the stirs, the harder the exercise becomes.
Also, the closer your legs are, the harder the exercise is. Spread your feet apart if you want a more stable base.
Stability Ball Planks
A simple regression to stability ball pot stirrers is to still do the plank but skip the stirring.
Keeping yourself in a fixed position is going to allow you to stabilize better and become more confident with the movement.
With this variation, start with your feet wide for a nice, strong base.
Stability Ball ABC's
A unique twist to the pot stirrers exercise that I learned from Jordan Syatt is called stability ball ABC’s.
Instead of going only in circles, you’ll spell out letters of the alphabet. This gets your core working in different directions and forces you to focus to make sure you remember your ABC’s!
Start with sets of A-M using a controlled motion. Once you can comfortably do A-M, add the rest of the alphabet.
Foam Roller Planks
If you want to ditch the stability ball but still have an element on instability in your core training, put your forearms on a foam roller.
Keep the same tension in your abs and glutes, along with aligning your shoulders and elbows.
Slowly roll a few inches forward and back on the foam roller for 8 - 10 reps.
Stirring The Pot Exercise Recap
The stir the pot ab exercise is a challenging core movement that you can do on a lower body workout as part of a superset with a leg movement.
For example, I’ll pair a unilateral leg movement like a lunge for my clients and during their 3 minute rest, they will do 6 stir the pot’s on each side.
Always remember to work with good form and if you need to regress the exercise to something easier, do it. Also, never train through pain!