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Old 08-22-2004, 08:25 AM   #7
Christopher Sommer
Departed Christopher Sommer is offline
Join Date: Jan 1970
Posts: 225
For a gymnast, the main purpose of doing the "snake motion", or curl ups as we call them in my gym, is to work all of the spinal extensors (the muscles inbetween the vertebrae). This is basically a horizontal version of a Jefferson curl; a powerlifing preventative exercise mentioned by Dr. Fred Hatfield ("Dr. Squat") in one of his early books on powerlifting from the 70's. It is an excellent exercise and one that we use regularly in my program.

To execute this exercise for maximum benefit, I recommend keeping the chin tucked to the chest and the back strongly hollow ("hunched") at the beginning of the movement. Now attempt to "uncurl" the back up to horizontal, one vertebrae at a time, beginning with the lower back and trying to work your way up. At no time should the plane of the back go above horizontal. Also be sure to not extend past flat to an arch; this includes the lower back. Upon reaching horizontal the back should be flat with no remaining hollow, be sure to pause here for a second or two. You are now half way done.

To return to the start, simply reverse the movement by curling the veterbrae of the upper back down one veterbrae at a time while keeping the mid and lower back flat. To understand this exercise better, it may help to visualize a string of pearls in which you uncurl the string up one pearl at a time and then curl the string back down one pearl at a time.

Done at a slow to medium tempo with added weight, this is a very vigorous exercise.

Yours in Fitness,
Coach Sommer
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