Brian Schiff shows off his chops (excuse the pun) in this week with a look at diagonal chops. You'll need a medicine ball for this core-focused power exercise, as well as a client, of course!

    See 'Related Resources' below for past Functionally Fits and other exercises and training tips.


    Begin with a medicine ball in your "hip pocket" with the ankle, knees and hips flexed and a neutral spine.

    Raise the medicine ball up over the opposite shoulder in a diagonal plane extending the ankles, knees and hips. Maintain slightly flexed elbows throughout.

    Perform one to three sets of 10-15 repetitions on each side or for time, and alternate between sides each set.

    This is an excellent way to strengthen the entire core and kinetic chain as well as increase power in a functional movement pattern. Training three-dimensionally better prepares people to withstand and absorb the force of daily activities and gravity with less risk of injury.

    Here are the key points to remember:

    • Keep the head and eyes forward throughout as this will prevent coupled flexion and rotation, which is harmful to the disc
    • Pre-tense the abs by drawing the belly button in toward the spine prior to beginning, and maintain a flat or neutral spine throughout
    • Allow the hip opposite the ball (top or bottom of the motion) to open up (externally rotate) as this is natural and prevents unnatural torsion on the lumbar spine.


    Additional Notes
    Begin with a controlled motion at a predictable pace until clients master the form. At this point, the exercise can also be done ballistically for sports performance/power or metabolic conditioning. In addition, you may use bands, cable pulleys or free weights for variety, but always be aware of how the resistance may change throughout the motion based upon the apparatus you choose.

    Brian Schiff, PT, CSCS (www.brianschiff.com) is a licensed physical therapist, respected author and fitness professional. He became a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) in 1998. In 2000, he opened his own personal training and sport-specific conditioning facility, Fitness Edge, in Dublin, Ohio. Brian has presented at several professional conferences and seminars on injury prevention and sport-specific training.


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