Ask Erin: Recovery Trunk Work?

“A bit of a Catch 22 situation for me. Have to train to improve and stay fit (both goals of mine) but training exposes back to stresses for which I feel I need training to cure.  I guess if I need anything it’s a program that focuses on strengthening the core and strategies for active recovery after training.”

-Busy and Backless :) 

Dear Busy and Backless:

A couple of things: 1) the majority of our members are absolutely in need of better trunk and glute strength or activation to help prevent injury, 2) it is the greatest lie of all personal trainers ever that more trunk work equals abz, 3) the majority of our members have one hour per day to give to their training and while gymnastics classes are an awesome part of your membership at CFCC, not everyone can pull off the times, and 4) the majority of our members sit at least 40% of the day.

Here are a couple of things that may help!

1) Below, I’ve included some potential 10-15 minute pieces – and sometimes less depending on how fast you are – that can be done post-workout or even at home or while traveling for the summer. These pieces primarily address trunk strength – glute-activation (or #BUTTSTUFF) is a whole other blog post that maybe we’ll hit up sometime soon.

2) Let me be clear here: AB WORK DOES NOT EQUAL WASHBOARD ABS. This work below is for the sole purpose of getting your trunk recruitment patterns to be stronger, more durable, and more balanced. Anyone who tells your different is selling something.

3) These pieces are short but will also save you the trouble of spinning your wheels doing “ab-work” that won’t actually be very effective (if I had a dollar for everytime I saw someone doing hip-flexor ups, aka sit-ups…). The best trunk work doesn’t look like what you see in an infomercial. You could do 3 post-workout per week when there isn’t already a cash-out of trunk work in the Workout of the Day, and then go back through every 2 weeks or be a crazy person and try to do all 6 per week… though that’s not ideal. All of these can also be done at home so they make good weekend homework when you can’t get to the gym or stuff you can do when didn’t end up having time at the gym itself.

4) One of the biggest game-changers for those of us born with imperfect bodies  everyone is learning to spend as much time as we can moving (aka, not sitting). Not only does moving more raise your basal metabolic rate (so you burn more energy just by being you), it also keeps you attentive and allows for less stiffness overall in the body (read: LESS INJURY). For more on this, you can check out the little video below:


Day 1: 

3 rounds of:

Hollow Hold x :30

Arch Hold x :30 *hold PVC (or a towel, or a mop) overhead in clean grip

Day 2: 

3 rounds of:

KB Side Bends x 20-30 reps per side *keep your chest up, learn to incorporate the glutes in here.

Inchworm Lateral Walks x 10-15ft. in each direction *STAY RIDICULOUSLY HOLLOW.

*if you don’t have a KB, use a small child or a backpack. :)

Day 3: 

3 rounds of:

Tuck Sit or L-Sit *go for single leg tuck-sits if you are close to getting an l-sit but not quite x :15-:20

Side Plank Reach Throughs x 8-12 reps per side

*No parallettes? No problem – set up two chairs next to each other preferably NOT on linoleum flooring.

Day 4: 

3 rounds of:

Glute Ham Sit-up to Parallel x 10-15 reps *add a band when you feel confident here. *squeeze quads to come up.

Sorensen Hold x :30-:45 *loaded when possible *stay SUPER hollow.

*If you don’t happen to have a Glute Ham machine at home, you can also sub out this variation which be done by setting up two chairs or equally high objects next to each other:

3 rounds of:

Chinese Plank – Face Up x :30-1:00

Chinese Plank – Face Down x :30 -1:00

*eventually add load where possible.

Day 5: 

3 rounds of:

Hollow Ups or Rocks x 25 reps

Arch Ups or Rocks x 25 reps

Day 6: 

3 rounds of:

Table Top Hold x :20-:30 hold *squeeze your butt – shoulders are NOT shrugged.

Russian Plank x :15-:20 MAXIMAL TENSION *be more hollow than the woman in the video, and pull the elbows down as hard you can to the hips.

Bird Dog w/ FLEXION x :10-:15 per side *stay hollow and rounded through the back as you push the leg back (as in the video) to really get the most out of this exercise – arching through the back is cool, but actually kind of useless here.

Let me know how you get on or if you have any questions! 


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Standing desks don’t need to be expensive or pretty or even normal for them to help you feel better!

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