Abs & Core Bodyweight Exercise Bodyweight TV

Roll Off Your Belly Roll

Written by Ryan Murdock

Okay, let’s build the next step in your cool multi-dimensional core sequence…

In the first installment — the Arching Leg Thread — we worked on your ability to recruit your core in a twisting motion. That’s pretty complex, and it’s a lot more challenging than the ole “sit up and lie back down” routine most of us spend our time on. I hope you were able to figure it out, and to catch that feeling of the core drawing in and extending the legs as you simultaneously rotate under yourself.

Next, we’ll put a little more emphasis on the leg threading component.

This might feel like a bit of an aside. It won’t put your core through the wringer like the previous exercise, but it’s essential that you master a few skills if you want to nail the final version we’re working up to.

I’m going to turn your entire world upside down — not with my legendary charm, but by convincing you to roll over…

You’re going to travel laterally down the length of your training space. At first it’ll seem like the roll is the point of the movement. It’s cool, it’s fun, and it’ll help your ability to fall safely if martial arts is your thing. But that’s just the surface level.

I want you to focus on two things.

First, the legs. Work on keeping your feet in constant contact with the ground. It’s essential that you master the leg thread at this stage. And you want your core to fire in order to pull those legs in, even as you’re rolling to the side.

Second, tucking the head. You’re transitioning through the plow position while moving sideways. Your core should pull your head down, allowing you to “roll under yourself” and travel safely across your shoulders.

These should be your performance goals.

Here’s your Lateral Shoulder Roll tutorial:

Focus on these components, and learn them well.

We’ll put the Arching Leg Thread and the Lateral Shoulder Roll together in the Third and final installment of the series.

Have fun!


About the author

Ryan Murdock


  • I’ve always liked the Plough as a yoga exercise in its own right, so I’m keen to try this move. I’ve been meaning to ask…Where did you get your awesome exercise mat?

    • umm…. i guess the statute of limitations has probably passed by now lol…. they were actually from my old high school. i rented their gym to teach martial arts when i was 18/19. one of my students had borrowed those mats from the school during March break and never took them back. I heard about it 8 yrs later, called him up, and asked if i could have them. no one every really asked for them back 🙂

  • OK. Here is an embarrassing question about plow. I’m a woman who is, shall we say, well endowed. I’ve always had a problem with being in the plow position. I feel as if my chest, under the altered direction of gravity, encroaches on my throat. It feels hard to breathe. Is there a way to alter this movement?

    • Hi Rachel,

      I hope Ryan doesn’t mind, but I’ll jump in with a reply here since I have personal experience with your issue.
      There are three things that help a lot.
      1) The first is wearing a supportive bra like a great running bra. Shock Absorber is a good brand.
      2) The second is making sure to stay on your shoulders instead of edging toward your neck. As women, our wider hips sometimes give a bit of extra weight that pushes our legs further over our head than need be for plow. If you notice, Ryan’s knees are about at his forehead. If you think about having a long spine, it will help.
      3) The third thing is that we know that our chest is there and because our technique wasn’t tip-top the first few times we tried plow, we experienced difficulty breathing. So even once our technique gets mostly ironed out, we try to protect our throat by rolling our shoulders inward which would retract our chest if we were standing. The problem is, in plow position it actually makes it worse for us. So concentrate on keeping your shoulders on the floor and your shoulder blades driven down away from your neck. It will help lift your chest off of your throat so you can breath more easily. Once your shoulders are down, then bring your legs over, but mentally check and make sure that your shoulders stay back and down. You can go slow with the legs so that you build a feel for where you need to sit on your shoulders to still breath comfortably.
      Dr. Kathryn

      • Awesome! Thanks, Dr. Kathryn. I’ll give your advice a shot. No one has ever been able to give me any constructive pointers on this before.

    • Thanks K! What a great reply! 🙂

      Just wanted to add that the same advice holds true for guys carting around a big beer belly. They experience the same sensations of smothering, and Kathryn’s advice is just as applicable for them.

  • Ok, what do we need to do if we can’t execute the plough. My feet are about a foot off the ground when I try to get in that position. I saw how you pulled your knees to your forehead but I can’t even do that. Any recommendations?

    • Skyler,

      No worries, you’ll get there. Don’t reach with your feet to try to touch the ground. Instead, focus on releasing your lower back. Pay special attention to what I said in the video about creeping the legs back one at a time. Even if you aren’t getting your knees to your shoulders, you can still place your hands on your hips to maintain your balance in that position and then reach with one leg at a time. It should be a nice stretch in your lower back, not uncomfortable. Try this and get back to us. And remember, it’ll take a bit of time to open up.

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