The Chopper is one of the most important moves in Pole Fitness. It is the base move used to transition through almost all intermediate and advance inverts. Developing the strength to nail your chopper can be a daunting task for some. The Chopper requires a great amount of upper body and core strength, specifically lower core strength, which can take a lot of work to gain. Sometimes the time we have in the studio is simply not enough to do the trick. Here are 5 exercises that you can do at home that can help you nail your chopper!
1. High Plank: The High Plank is a simple, yet very effective exercise!
Muscles Targeted: Core, Shoulders and Wrists.
How to Perform: Bring your shoulders over your wrists, keep you neck, shoulder and hips in line, suck the belly in and press the hands into the mat.
Common Mistakes: Dropping the hips below the shoulders or lifting the hips into the air.
Recommended Sets and Reps: Feel free to start slow and work your way up. Start holding for 15 seconds and work on gradually increasing until you can hold for at least a minute. We recommend about 3 sets.
Modifications: If a High Plank is too hard to start, try putting your knees on the floor, keeping your knees behind your hips and weight into your hands, to still work your core. If your wrists bother you, a Low Plank (with forearms on the floor) is another acceptable variation.
2. Plank with Knee Tucks:
How to Perform: Start in High Plank (Pictured above), keeping your hips low, draw your right knee into your chest, trying to pull the foot and knee as close to your body as possible. Hold for 3 seconds, replace foot in plank and repeat on left side.
Common Mistakes: Lifting the hips while bringing the knee to the chest.
Sets and Reps: Repeat 5 times on each side, 3 sets.
Modifications: Keep the knees on the floor. To make harder, you can hold the knee into the chest for 5 seconds each time.
3. Push-Ups (elbows back):
Muscles Targeted: Biceps/Triceps, Shoulders, Back
How to Perform: Start in a High Plank (see above), draw your elbows back towards your body and draw your shoulder blades together. Keep your elbows drawing in as you bend your elbows, bringing your chest a few inches from the floor, straighten elbows to come back into a Plank position. Keep neck, shoulders, and hips in line, and keep the belly drawing in.
Common Mistakes: Dropping or Lifting the hips. Not keeping the shoulders over the wrists. Hands to close together or far apart (wrists should be in line with shoulders). Elbows out to the sides is a different type of push-up. We recommend elbows drawn in for Chopper training.
Sets and Reps: 3 Sets of 10
Modifications: Place your knees on the floor, keep your knees behind your hips and your shoulders in line with your wrists, keep hips in line with shoulders. You can go only a quarter or half way towards the floor until you gain the strength to do a full push up.
4. Floor Knee Tucks or Pikes:
Target Muscles: Core
How to Perform: Step One- Lying on your back, lift your chest and place your forearms on the floor with your elbows in line with your shoulders. Extend your legs straight out in front of you, with the feet several inches from the floor. Draw your belly to your spine. Step Two- Bend your knees into your chest, tucking your hips and get your knees as close to your chest as possible. Extend the legs back to step one and repeat. Straighten the legs for a harder variation.
Common Mistakes: Letting the elbows fall towards the hips and not keeping them directly under the shoulders. Not bringing the knees (or feet) high enough.
Step Two - Harder Variation
Sets and Reps: 3 Sets of 10 reps.
Modifications: Straighten legs to make it harder.
5. Hip Lifts:
Target Muscles: Lower core and Hamstring/back flexibility
How to Perform: Start lying on your back, suck your belly to the floor and raise your feet a few inches off the ground (make sure there is no space between your lower back and the floor). Keeping your hands on the floor, lift your hips into the air, pull your feet over your head, trying to touch the toes to the floor behind you. Slowly lower your hips and legs back toward the ground, keeping the feet off the floor, repeat.
Common Mistakes: Using the hands to lift the hips. Releasing the feet all the way to the ground in between reps.
Reps and Sets: 3 Sets of 10 Reps.
Modification: If you are not very flexible, it is okay if the feet do not touch the ground behind your head.
We recommend practicing these exercises 3-4 times a week to see best results!