Category: Exercise

Reverse Hyper Core Training

Reverse Hyper is the name often given for the opposite of the Back Hyperextension. In the latter you stand in the foot pads with your heels held firmly in place. Then leaning the quads or the upper part of the front of your legs on pads you lean forward hinging at the hip toward the floor. You go down to approximately 45 to 60 degrees and then rise up to parallel or more above the ground.

Reverse Hyper on the bench named for the exercise
Reverse Hyper on the bench named for the exercise

With the Reverse Hyper you can use the special bench shown. You place your chest and torso on the bench with your hips extended out over the edge. Then you grasp the handles and hold yourself steady while hinging at the hip joint to lift your legs to above parallel to the floor. You then lower your legs under control to perpendicular below you.

In the video demonstration I’m doing sets of 12 with no additional weight. I’m lifting my heels up fairly high with a good degree of flexibility and mobility in my lower back.

Disclaimer: Obviously this might differ between individuals and is best determined by your own self-awareness or the advice of a qualified professional familiar with this movement and the requirements to perform it safely. Be careful and don’t become injured.

Reverse Hyper Video Demonstration:


This type of reverse hyper bench has a swing arm that you can slip around your ankles to add weight. The lever arm itself adds in about 5 pounds or so of resistance but it takes a little getting used to. If you want to add weight perhaps just using the empty lever tubing would be a good way to start to see if you like it or not.

I think you could also add ankle weights when you do the reverse hyper. For an exercise like this that I consider an accessory movement I prefer 3-6 sets of 12 with no or little weight added. An accessory movement supports another more primary movement, such as the RDL. Otherwise known as the Romanian Dead Lift this is itself an accessory movement for Squats and Deadlifts.

I’ve seen demos of the reverse hyper holding a dumbbell in between the toes of the feet, but I think this would be too dangerous for most normal people and recommend against it.

The “Superman Plank”, a bodyweight, no bench version of this, is one of the main core exercises in my Mountaineering Fitness: Beginner Training Manual INFO HERE

Hanging Knee Raises

Hanging Knee Raises are among my favorite core training exercises. I like to use the arm straps that connect to a power rack, or pull-up bar (or some other way to connect them).

Slip your arms into the straps until your elbows poke out the end and if your shoulder and elbow mobility allow, reach up and gently hang onto the large snap rings (carabiners) that you use to connect them to the rod). From there lift yourself up with your lats and abs until you’re hanging straight down from the straps.

Starting position for hanging knee raises with your elbows just coming out of the straps and hanging onto the carabiners loosely.
Starting position for hanging knee raises with your elbows just coming out of the straps and hanging onto the carabiners loosely.

For strict hanging knee raises you’ll need to avoid using momentum to accomplish the movement. Use your core to pull your knees up as high as you can without hurting your back. If you can gently tap your elbows with your knees, all the better. Again, without momentum, finish each rep of your hanging knee raises by lowering your legs and straighten them as you go down. Try to not touch the floor with your feet and try not to let your feet swing behind you. This will add momentum as you go forward and reduces the strictness of your hanging knee raises. Use tension in your core to slow the motion of the hanging knee raises at the bottom so that your feet stop just under you.

Upper position of the hanging knee raises with your knees touching the tips of your elbows using tension to pause to prevent the assistance of momentum.
Upper position of the hanging knee raises with your knees touching the tips of your elbows using tension to pause to prevent the assistance of momentum.

When you do these correctly and with proper tension in your core, you should only be able to do a dozen, give or take. If you can do a lot of hanging knee raises, you’re using momentum to assist the motion. This isn’t necessarily bad, since momentum and dynamic motion are valid means of training hanging knee raises, but you should mix it up and use them without momentum on a regular basis for best benefit to your core.

I recommend doing 5 sets of 10 to 12 hanging knee raises without momentum with every other workout session.

Hanging Knee Raises Video on Youtube:


Disclaimer: If you have shoulder, elbow, wrist, or lower back mobility issues (or any other type of issue) that could result in pain or damage, either stop doing hanging knee raises or find a variation that you can safely do. If you don’t have commercially available straps and a safe place to fasten them, please find training or information for another variation.

Be sure to look for my upcoming Mountaineering Fitness: Beginner Training ManualDETAILS

Deadlift at Breck Rec

I did a workout today at the Breckenridge Recreation Center CLICK HERE It’s just referred to as Breck Rec here. The main part of my workout was based around the deadlift today.

Deadlift Video

Here’s a video I managed to take of two sets in my deadlift workout today. I did them with my phone and you can see when I knocked my phone over after that first set. If you keep your eyes open you can see it happen.

That aside, I had a really good workout and I went on to do squats, shoulder presses, and chin-up and pull-up exercises. For the deadlift I did a brief warmup set of 25 @ 45 lb RDL. That’s Romanian Deadlift, otherwise called Reverse Deadlift. I’ll do another article on that soon, but it’s a deadlift in which you don’t break at the knees at the lower portion of the lift. You use your glutes and hamstrings with relatively straight legs. It looks a lot like the ending position in the video, just before I stand up. Again, look for an article with video soon.

Bar Loaded for Deadlift sets of 1 at 244 lb
Bar Loaded for Deadlift sets of 1 at 244 lb

I then did a warmup set of 10 @ 111 lb. These are metric Olympic Bumper Plates so they might not add up like you’re used to. Bumper plates work with a flexible resilient floor, or deck, to absorb the impact of dropped loaded bars. Then I did 8 x 3 @ 199 lb.That’s 8 sets of 3 reps at 199 pounds. Those were intended to be my working sets and then I was planning on being done. I had some fuel in the tank still, so to speak, so I loaded up some more weight and did some singles. That’s sets of 1 rep. I did 5 x 1 @ 244 lb. There’s a lot of reasons to do this. We discussed this at the Steve House seminar I attended. Powerlifters train like this in cycles. It’s recently been recommended that runners train like this. I’m experimenting right now to see how effective it can be for me in my activities.

Deadlift Technique

You’ll see in the video that I set up with my feet a little over shoulder width apart and toes pointed outward. That works for me. I have very long legs relative to my height. I can straddle a yardstick. Yep. It makes some leg training annoying, like squats, but I’ve become accustomed to it. So what I’m saying is that if you deadlift, don’t emulate my technique exactly. Find your own foot and let alignment.

Then I set my hands outside my knees with about a thumb length between my first finger wrapping the bar and the edge of the knurling. Again, this is to clear my knees on the way up. Your position might be different. That being said, powerlifters like to pull the bar up as short a distance as possible, which means a narrower grip. I’m not training for powerlifting, I’m training for uphill travel, so I’m just getting a good workout in. I’m not going to stress over little details. If I ever work my way up to a 1000 lb pull it might make more sense to worry about it though.

I rock back and forth subtly, maybe you don’t even notice, to take up the slack in my hamstrings and glutes. I straighten my arms and lock my shoulder sockets, and pull. This is a lot of weight and I’m a bit tired now, having done my working sets already. I’m going a bit slower than I like, but near the top as I gain leverage over the bar I snap my glutes to pull my back straight and hold the bar for a second.

I resist the bar as I lower it, so that I lower it slowly. I’m training the negative or eccentric motion here. The concentric motion is the effort of pulling the bar off the floor. The eccentric motion is resisting gravity as you lower the bar. The eccentric motion is what you use hiking downhill. It’s hard to train for many people, and too much heavy eccentric training in the deadlift or any other exercise can lead to DOMS. That’s Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, or the pain you feel the day after your workout. For that reason many coaches have their athletes drop the bar as they step away and let the special flooring take the blow. I lower mine to about an inch off the floor before I drop it. That’s the “clang” you hear at the end of each of the two sets in the video.

Sitting in front of the window taking a break between each set of my deadlift workout
Sitting in front of the window taking a break between each set of my deadlift workout

You might notice that I have a tendency to pull my knees out of the path of the bar a bit early. That’s because I have those long legs and when they’re bent it interrupts the path of the bar. Also since I do RDL training with weights in this range of heavy I have a pretty strong glute and lower back area to pull that bar up. Again, your technique might look completely different.

If you’re not sure how to do this, get some local coaching. Most fitness facilities will have someone who is qualified to teach this to you, or help you get good technique or form that works for you safely. Be sure to subscribe to this blog for more updates, or to get a FREE DOWNLOAD of my “Planning Your Home Cardio” ebook, CLICK HERE.

Trap Bar Deadlift Video

I’m a fan of the Trap Bar Deadlift. The Trap Bar is a hexagonal bar that surrounds your legs as you stand, with the handles on the side and set front-to-back. This allows for a different position for your arms and hands. If you have any kind of shoulder, elbow or wrist issues this might be the answer.

Trap Bar Deadlift from the top showing the bar
Trap Bar Deadlift from the top showing the bar

I’ve included a video to help show you how I do it. Note that my arms and legs are very long in proportion to my torso. That changes my alignment a bit, so that I’m starting with a more forward position with less bend in the legs. I’m also using the upper handle on the Trap Bar Deadlift so it might be viewed as a type of “pulling from pins” exercise. I train hard with the Romanian Deadlift (RDL) so my lower back can tolerate it better.

One thing to pay attention to is that I duck down a bit to relax and stretch my tendons and joints, then put tension back on them as I rise up and prepare for the lift. I’m doing sets of two singles. I do a heavy pull from the floor and set it down. Then I rest up for about 3-5 seconds and do another pull from the floor. Be careful in doing any type of lift, but especially the Trap Bar Deadlift, to keep that arch in your lower back. If you hunch it into a reverse arch you could risk some damage to your spine or pelvis.

A Trap Bar Deadlift is fine if you’re not training to compete as a Power Lifter. In my opinion it’s valid as a way to lift heavy weight and improve strength and fitness. I’m also doing the negative, or eccentric motion. That’s setting the bar down under control for most of the way down. Many Power Lifting training articles will recommend against it, since it can increase muscle soreness for some people as well as fatigue that might result in a shorter duration workout.

Since I’m not training for maximum load or, again, as a Power Lifter, I’m not sure if it’s so relevant. I also like to train for the purpose of fat loss, and heavy Trap Bar Deadlift training to fatigue, in my opinion, can help with that goal.

Trap Bar Deadlift Video Demonstration:

Speaking of fat loss, be sure to catch my new book “The 100 Calorie Diet Plan” available on Kindle, Nook, Google Play and a print edition on Amazon. I cover the basics of journaling and measuring improvements using simple basic math and SMART Goal Setting Principles. Check it out HERE for more information.

Ice Climbing Training: Ice Tool Chinups

Ice Climbing Training can involve many aspects of fitness. One that is often overlooked is Ice Tool Chinups. For me this is a power and strength exercise, not an endurance exercise. Any normal ice climber on any normal route shouldn’t have to do too many full chinups on their tools. I don’t see a lot of reason to work these as an endurance exercise. For Ice Climbing Training Endurance I’d prefer to do these assisted. That more accurately reflects the type of climbing you’d be doing.

Ice Climbing Training Tools: Hangboard and Ice Tools (sideways view)
Ice Climbing Training Tools: Hangboard and Ice Tools (sideways view)

For this exercise I’ve used protocol for power improvement. I’m doing 5 to 8 sets of 3 reps from a full hang to an upper position with the tools by my neck. If you have any previous injuries to your wrists, elbows, or shoulders you might have to adjust your ice climbing training accordingly. I’ve found this position with the tools just inside the width of my shoulders to work best for my joints.

If you want to work toward strength training, stay with 5 sets of 3 reps and work toward 5 sets of 5 reps by adding in a rep here and there as your own strength improves. You’ll know when you’re ready because you won’t feel so beat up on your last few sets.

Ice Climbing Training: Results

Ice Climbing Training Upper Body Results
Ice Climbing Training Upper Body Results

If you’re already pretty strong, or want to adjust your ice climbing training more toward endurance you can change up some things. I’ve started with my feet on the floor. The hangboard is over the doorway so that starts me about halfway up to full chinup. I just use my toes lightly to launch into an ice tool chinup then drop down under control onto the balls of my feet. Then I pop back up. You could do this for sets of 25 reps, then with a few minutes of rest do another 1 to 3 sets.

An option for even more power would be to add in a weighted belt or vest and do singles. Normally in a protocol for singles you’d do one rep as strongly and quickly as possible. Then you’d do a full complete rest for one to three minutes and do another rep. If you’re wearing a heart rate monitor you could do as many single reps as possible until your resting heart rate spikes and won’t go down within the three minutes rest period. Then your ice climbing training is done for the day.

Ice Climbing Training Video: Ice Tool Chinups

If you need a warmup for your ice climbing training, consider this quick Shoulder Mobility Circuit before you train.

Back Hyperextension to Superman Plank

I do Back Hyperextensions regularly in my training. I usually do them as a warmup for my other training especially on leg days. Getting the lower back prepared for squats and deadlifts is essential. In the video below I demonstrate a decent lower back position when doing Back Hayperextension exercises. Be sure to keep that back straight and don’t let the curve in your lower back collapse, like the classic angry cat image.

Back Hyperextension: close up of lower back and glute area

From the Youtube Page: I keep my lower back static while feeling the emphasis in my hamstrings and glutes. It’s not really a workout, but it’s a great way to warm up and cool down from your other posterior chain training.

In that back hyperextension video you probably notice that I don’t go for a large range of motion. About 45-60 degrees of movement is plenty. If you see someone doing this in a dynamic swinging movement with their shoulder pushed down and pulled back at the bottom and top, don’t imitate them. You can get hurt very badly. I think you should do back hyperextensions slowly and under control. It’s not strength training. You probably won’t be doing this with 200lbs on your shoulders. Ever.

Back Hyperextension to Superman Plank

I was talking to one of the people I train about fast uphill motion and they noticed some definite nagging pain in their Quadratus Lumborum area. I recommended back hyperextensions and Superman planks.

Back Hyperextension target muscle Quadratus Lumborum c/o Wiki
Back Hyperextension target muscle Quadratus Lumborum c/o Wiki

While training the other day it suddenly struck me to combine the two exercises into one set. It’s a lot easier since you are already set up to do the back hyperextension, and just lift your arms out for the plank. Here’s the Facebook Video I posted for this combination exercise.

The usual disclaimers apply. If you are hurt, injured, have some disability or pain or other issues that prevent you from doing this, please, check with a qualified professional before attempting it.