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Exercise of the Week- “Twelve to Six” Core Stability Challenge

Filed under: Uncategorized — Shon @ 3:13 pm January 5, 2012

A fantastic exercise  that challenges the entire upper quarter from a both a stability standpoint as well as a unique  use of the latissimus is the "Twelve to Six" movement on the rings (the name comes from the movement of the head from the twelve o'clock position to the six o'clock position when a repetition is initiated).  The video below is yours truly performing a typical set:


The movement is initiated from the "dead hang" position with as neutral a spine as possible.  The foam roller helps keep the hip and lumbar spine position "honest" throughout the exercise, which challenges the lats and scapular stabilizers even further.

Begin with a strong bracing contraction of the abdominals, then "set" your lats by isometrically depressing your shoulders. Then, pull your knees toward your hands ( the foam roller is key here, as without it, you easily loose the neutral spine position).  When your knees pass the straps of the rings, pause 1-2 seconds and control the descent to the starting position.  Pause 1-2 seconds, and repeat.  

One to three repetitions per set is a great starting point, with a set range of five to ten sets per session being adequate for good progress.  You can increase repetitions as you wish, as long as technical excellence is maintained.  It is best with this type of exercise to leave "one in the tank" so as not to develop a sloppy motor pattern and/or substitution pattern.

This exercise serves as a nice precursor to a front lever progression, part of which I have demonstrated before:




Why This Exercise is Valuable:

1) The Lats Work Differently Than Usual

In this exercise, the latissimus act in "reverse action"; that is, the origin of the muscle (at the thoracolumbar fascia) moves toward the insertion (the humerus) in closed chain fashion against gravity- a pretty difficult and challenging proposition.  The trunk rotating about the shoulder joint provides different training stimulus versus most "traditional" chin up/pull up progressions. 


The sternal portion of the pectoralis major also gets some work as a stabilizer, as does the subscapularis and teres major, with the shoulder being internally rotated and adducted. 

2)  The Abdominals Act as a "Chassis Stabilizer"

Bracing the abdominals (as well as increasing intrabdominal pressure)  set the stage for a rigid frame that the latissimus "engine" drives through completion.  Again, the foam roller held with the heels/buttocks is really important in the early stages of learning, or you loose a key part of what makes this exercise worth doing. Moving the distal end of the body through space requires a high level of not only abdominal activity, but integrated proximal hip stabilization and significant intermuscular coordination between all moving and stabilizing parts.

3) You Are Taken Out of Your Proprioceptive "Comfort Zone" 

The psycho biological/ proprioceptive challenge of overcoming the apprehension of an inverted posture is something that will benefit most trainees. There is a skill component in learning and exercise like this that is more fun than a typical straight saggital/frontal plane movement such as a chin up.  When you do this in a commercial gym, the looks are pretty priceless as well! 

Who This Is Not Probably For

-A trainee who can't perform an "honest" 12 chin ups or pull ups.

-Someone who lacks requesite thoracic spine and shoulder mobility.

-Those who have fair to poor ability to stablize the core.

For those who are ready, though, the "Tewlve to Six" is a great addition to a program that adds a lot of value (as well as a lot of strength) to a solid program.