5 ways to improve your core strength and flexibility for IPPT success

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No More ‘No Count’ – Five simple exercises to improve your sit-ups, push-ups and 2.4km run – and prep you for rock climbing!


“No count! No count!”

This dreaded call during IPPT push-ups and sit-ups is brought on by incorrect or inconsistent body position, which stems from either erroneous technique (fix this by reading our March/April Shape Up article) or poor physical conditioning.

So what’s the solution? Improve both your core body strength and flexibility – two things that many NSmen neglect when training for IPPT.

Core strength and flexibility also help you maintain good form throughout the 2.4km run, improving your running economy and overall performance, and protecting you from getting injured easily. They’re also needed for daily activities like picking up things from the ground.

1. Get into push-up position, then rest your forearms on the ground. Elbows should be at 90-degree angle directly under your shoulders.

2. Straighten body into a clean line from head to feet. Hold position for as long as possible – 30 seconds for beginners is OK.

3. Aim for 10 reps, slowly working up to longer holds – 2 minutes per plank is ideal.

Intensify – Widen your stance and/or brace yourself on your hands instead of forearms.

1. Lie on your stomach. Bring legs together and extend arms overhead – biceps alongside your ears.

2. Tighten back and butt muscles to raise legs and torso off the ground. Keep legs and arms straight, and stretch fingers away from you.

3. Hold for 5 seconds, then slowly lower into relaxed position. Aim for 10 reps.

Intensify – Lift only right arm and left leg for first rep, then left arm and right leg for second rep, and keep alternating.

1. Lie on your back with hands by your side, knees bent, and feet flat on ground directly under knees.

2. Tighten your abs and butt, and raise hips to make a straight line from knees to shoulders. Hold as long as possible, then drop back down.

3. Aim for 2 sets of 10 reps.

Intensify – Squeeze your core together (visualise pulling your belly button into your spine). Work up to holding each bridge for 30 seconds. You can also add weights.

1. Get on all fours, with knees under hips and hands under shoulders, keeping spine neutral and relaxed.

2.Tighten abs (pull belly button towards spine) and raise right arm and left leg straight out – body should be in a straight line from fingers to toes.

3. Return to starting position and repeat with opposite arm and leg. Do 2 sets of 10 reps.

Intensify – Work out on a bench instead of on the floor.

1. Lie on your back with hands resting palms down (parallel with shoulders), knees bent, and feet flat on the ground.

2. Raise feet off the floor, keeping knees bent at 90 degrees (neutral position). Keeping the abs tight and shoulders on the ground, drop both knees towards the left as far you can manage without pain.

3. Using trunk and core muscles, pull back to neutral position and repeat on the right. Do 10 reps.

Intensify – Hold furthest point of stretch for at least 5 seconds each rep.

Training for HomeTeamNS' Most Supportive Division events?

Clip ‘n Climb – the latest and arguably most popular event in the annual MSD competition

Last year, Team ProCom, led by ASP (NS) Muhammad Zaki bin Hyder, won both the NSF and NSman categories.

Zaki says many of his team members had no prior climbing experience, but had good functional strength (core strength and flexibility). It was hence easy to turn them into good climbers.

“In the first few training sessions, we focused on climbing techniques. I just needed to ‘re-wire’ their brains to a climber’s perspective and they developed very quickly.

“Many people think climbing is just about having strong arms or upper-body strength, but it actually requires the whole body. We emphasise using the legs rather than relying solely on arm strength,” Zaki adds.

Clearly, improving one’s overall fitness isn’t just useful for IPPT. So stop making excuses and shape up today!