June 24, 2010 posted by

WFH: Stabilization

While by far the easiest day in the rotation, day 3 is vital for both performance and non-performance. Stability work keeps injuries at bay but, if done correctly, will also free up your prime mover muscles to function more effectively. I dedicate my knowledge in this area to the late Kevin Brown, who taught me much more about stability training than I learned from books, classes, training rooms and medical offices.

He was an innovator in the field of “prehab”, which is addressing injuries before they happen. Sports programs that worked with him saw their non-contact injury rates mostly disappear. Most of his breakthroughs seem obvious once in practice, yet are overlooked by athletes the majority of the time. Over the years he would continually take something conventional and mildly effective and tinker with it until he found something more effective. Eventually he came up with a system that worked for any group of athletes no matter what their given sport.

While training with Kevin could get complex, the cornerstone of his system is simple. There are a few key movements he used that, when done regularly, keep your musculature balanced and greatly reduce the chances of injuring your knees and shoulders, the two hot spots in the athletic world. My stabilizer days feature these movements with a couple others adding for climbing specificity.

Hip stabilization

Hip Medley

A series of four exercises, done in successive 45 second sets, which target the gluteus medius. The benchmark is 3:00 with 5 pounds. Hard to explain so you’ll have to wait for video.

Windshield Wipers
The “my guys would rather get shot” exercise, again targeting the gluteus medius. Do 3 sets of 25 reps with a 10 second hold at the end. Again, you’re going to need video.

Shoulder stabilization
I do three sets of one exercise that targets the muscles of the rotator cuff region. It’s a standard move, sometimes called scarecrow, though I do it one arm at a time. I use both a theraband and a weight to keep the resistance constant throughout (the benchmark goal is 50 reps with 15lbs). The trick is that I push down on a stability ball with my elbow. This deactivates the deltoid muscles that tend to take over the movement, focusing the exercise onto the correct muscle group. Again, vids coming.

I do reverse write curls to work the extensor muscles in the forearm. 3 sets of 30.

The same bridge and plank series from the day before, but I’ll do three sets. The benchmarks are a 3 minute plank and 10 sets of one-legged bridge held for 20 seconds rotated back and forth.

TA muscle
Normally I add the exercise from the preceding day on stabilizer days as well.

I can mainly hit my benchmarks so I don’t always do these exercises. During this program, however, I will do them religiously and try and exceed all benchmarks. The stronger these muscles are the better and when you’re spending a lot of time doing other stuff it’s hard to focus on them. I find a few intense periods will give you some margin for error so you can safely slack off at other times.

pic: in the 80s we had lycra, which instantly increased both your range of motion and stabilization strength. it was subsequently banned from competition.


  • Won't yoga train the lower stabilizer muscles? Adding balance postures might also help?You copy these posts and turn it into a pdf document or a rar file with the whole program later on for people to get it easily rather than dig in your old posts. 😛 Just a suggestion.

  • It does for sure, but not as specifically, so during such an acute phase I like to do a lot more work than normal on the gluteus medius and rotator cuff muscles, specifically. If you can hit your benchmarks you, technically, don't need to do these exercises. It's very rare that someone can hit them however. I'll get the vids up next week and you can try them. Will be interesting to see if you've created any imbalances. My guess is that you'll be pretty good.

  • Great post!I always do wrist curls and prayers just for pushups and typeing.Also btw….Did you see Americas Got Talent last night? A married couple did a rock climbing wall dance it was AMAZING!

  • it will no doubt be more useful when the videos are up but, yes, the point is what's most important because you can always find what to do.Didn't see it. To give you an idea of how much TV I see I've never even heard of it. I do, however, know a bunch of the Project Bandaloop people.

  • Just found your training blog the other day. I was thinking about starting CrossFit to up my baseline fitness for a big alpine trip in August, but the WFH is free and looks like a solid plan.Oh, and the only reason I stopped by to make a comment (other than to say thanks for posting the WFH) was to say DAMN! That's the most intense heel-hook I've ever seen. Woah.

  • thanks for paying homage kevin brown. his name comes up in my aging gimp climber etc circle.look forward to the hip medley, thanks again

  • Kevin was a pioneer and a good friend. It's funny because he wasn't all that credentialed compared to a lot of folks. But that's because he was simply too busy out learning and putting things into practice. I saw his theories change a lot over the years and he learned new techniques, tested them against old modalities and threw out whatever worked the least. It was a huge contrast to so many stuffy credentialed types who held onto whatever they had learned in med school in 1970 or whatever.

  • Thanks for all the info Steve. Looking forward to the videos. Having recently dislocated my shoulder I'm looking for all the stability exercises I can get my hands on.

  • Hi Steve,Great work here and BB. You are my ultimate resource on so many things. Is there a video posted somewhere on injury avoidance stuff? I am in my mid-40's and could really use that information. Thanks,Shawn

  • keep watching. they'll be up sometime fairly soon. in the mean time keep doing your yoga!

  • Steve, has the video for the hip medley routine been posted somewhere? If not, could you briefly describe the routine? I just completed my second marathon and I would like to do a WFH program focused on building strength and endurance for running. Thanks!

  • I will try and get these up. In the mean time you could Google windshield wipers (as an exercise) and gluteus medius exercises. Maybe a hip medley will come up but I doubt it, but it's a combination of 4 glute med exercises each done for 45s continuously.

  • Wall slide is another you could try and Google. It's a great glute med exercise.

  • Steve, where is the video that you mentioned about stabilization (shoulder and hip)? I have those two problems, so I would love to begin doing the exercises you mentioned.

  • Steve, where is that stabilization video (shoulder & hip exercises) you mentioned?Thank you very much. David

  • I kept learning new movements that seemed better than what I was using and never posted because the process kept evolving. I think I've settled on the movements/sequences that are damn good and it WILL be coming soon, so keep reading my new posts. I've now got no problems in my hip and shoulder even though if you look at an MRI of both areas there's so much damage you'd probably think I could barely move.

  • Thanks Steve. I need to stabilize my right shoulder. I developed a supraspinatus muscle injury – impingement syndrome to be exact. I was told that the impingement was likely caused by serratus anterior weakness and additionally scapular dyskinesis (improper biomechanical functioning of my scapular movement patterns). This is due to my significant scoliosis (about 10 degrees). Any advice is welcome.

  • This is pretty thorough. I've been messing with it and trying to streamline it somewhat but it's a good program:

  • Thanks Steve. That's very helpful. I also have a hip stabilization issue, so let me know if you find any good videos of exercises.

  • Steve, could you please direct me to any videos to help my hip stabilization?Thank you very much for your help. David

  • I'll be putting some vid on my blog soon, and 90x mc2 is going to address this in depth.

  • thanks so much, Steve!

  • Has anyone that was present at Kevin's brain dump synthesized and presented the information in accessible form yet? It would be a shame if his teachings were lost to inertia.

  • No idea on Kevin's stuff. I passed all my info along to a crew that was supposed to be writing a book. So far, I've only seen one article out of it. I'm still passing on what I've learned from him, though.

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