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.”
To do the exercise Sunrise Sunset, you lie face-up with arms and legs extended toward the ceiling and a stability ball in your hands. You extend to lower arms and legs toward the floor, holding the ball in your hands, then return to the starting position and pass the ball from your hands to your legs. Then, you open and extend again, this time holding the ball with your legs, and repeat, passing the ball from hands to feet 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, the ball arcs like a sun rising and setting. 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 stabilization with hip and shoulder extension.”
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 favorite 5 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.
Case in point....
To do a pistol squat, find your balance on one 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: Do single-leg stands from a chair! Sit on a chair, lift one leg, then practice standing up and lowering down using only one leg.
I have some clients do a variation of Inchworm as a warm-up! No equipment is required, and it works most major muscles.
I also have a client who fired her previous trainer for making her do Inchworms in every workout. That's how much she hates them.
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.
From there, keep your core braced as you walk your feet to your hands. If you have tight hamstrings, you’ll need to bend your knees as you do this. From there, start again, walking hands forward. Do 5-10 reps.
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, naturally, was “I HAVE TO TRY THAT.”
I discovered Sissy Squats while searching for exercises that directly target the quadriceps. Sissy Squats, aptly named, are difficult to do properly, and therefore not for sissies. Or something like that.
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 dumbbells). 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 forward, and fight to keep 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, check your form, or build your quad strength with safer exercises like squats and then try again.
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. Sounds to me like all that punishment was worth it to get some really hawt quads.
4) BEAR CRAWL
Same client, another story…
Me: "Be sure to keep your abs engaged during bear crawl." Client: "Pretty sure 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.”
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 abs, glutes, back, shoulders and triceps, AND builds coordination, 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 lift your knees a few inches. “Crawl” forward on hands and feet, keeping your core muscles engaged. That’s all there is to it!
Sometimes I have a client drag a Sandbell along with them as they crawl. They especially hate me for love that variation!
I'm such a dork.
5) Shark Bite
Look, I don't know WTF is going on here either, ok? So don't come at me in the comments. But Dr. Peter Attia makes the short list of my favorite fitness and nutrition experts and if he suggests we do this, then let's get our glute-burn on!
The Shark Bite is a combination move that includes a lunge, a single-leg hinge, and a curtsy lunge.
I have no doubt you'll send me mean-mail tomorrow if you try this right now. "Ow, my BUTT!"
If that isn't enough, there's also an advanced version HERE. (Holy hell.)
There are more oddly-named exercises, but those 5 make my favorites list!
Do you have an oddly named exercise to share?