How To Perform Stir The Pot Exercise Effectively

Working on Abs but bored of planking? Stir The Pot Exercise is famous for its ultimate high-rated score for Core Improvement.

Core improvement is fundamental to any sport. A strong core can provide a solid support system for explosive, powerful movements. Weak core muscles can cause injuries and limit your mobility potential. 


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Core Strength

Recently, planking exercises have become widely recognized as a preposterous method for core muscles training to enhance conditioning, posture, endurance and overall body strength.

Plank Variations

Plank variations mainly work on the whole lumbo-pelvic-hip area to improve antero-posterior stability and resistance of anti-extension forces.

However, trust me when I say training your core can be excruciatingly painful, rather mentally than physically.

To be completely honest, although planking (with infinite variations) is a great tool for beginners and is necessary for people with lower back problems, it is still among the most boring exercises that you can do in the gym.

Luckily, you can take it to the next level with “stir the pot” exercise. If you have already developed foundation strength, the Swiss ball “stir the pot” exercise is one of the absolute best for kicking things up a notch and maximize core development.

However, if you find the “stir the pot” exercise too difficult to perform at your current level (typically for beginners), you can start off with some rather basic planking variations to develop your strength first. You’ll want begin with the basic straight plank.​

The setup for straight plank is nearly identical to the “stir the pot” exercise, with arms bent at 90-degree angle, head neutral, shoulders back to form a straight line from your neck to your ankles.  

Once you’re able to hold that position for 60 seconds, you are ready for the stir the pot exercise for at least 8 high-quality reps. After that you can increase the challenge gradually.

What Is “Stir The Pot Exercise"?

Stir The Pot

​And before you ask; no that’s not it. Of course I don’t mean literally stirring your pot; that’s for cooking. We’re talking about a serious core exercise here.

The original concept of “stirring the pot”  was first introduced by Dr. Stuart McGill, a world-renowned spine specialist. He also referred to the Swiss-ball “stir the pot” as the best core exercise.

You will understand why it is heavily favored as a mean of powerful core training once you try it out.

“Stir The Pot Exercise” is similar to planks in the way that they both build your core stability; even the positionings are almost identical. The main difference is the Swiss ball used in Stir the pot exercise.

​The instability of the ball makes your body, especially your abs work harder to prevent rotating, flexing, or extending too much.

According to professional trainers, the swiss ball “stir the pot” exercise will hit your whole body, literally from your fingers to neck to toes.

The combo of instability and dynamic movement from the exercise allows you to specifically hone your rectus abdominis (better known as six-pack muscles), obliques and all of the smaller core muscles that stabilize the spine from about every direction.

So it doesn’t matter if you are a bodybuilder going after a better set of six packs, a power lifter or just an enthusiastic athlete like myself - who wants to improve overall strength and explosiveness.

Or you simply sought to alleviate your lower back health, you definitely should give this exercise a shot.

Here Are Some Key Things About “Stir The Pot Exercise":

  • You can do “stir the pot exercise” about anywhere because it is relatively simple; all you need is an exercise ball
  • Basically, it is like planking with your forearms resting stably on the ball. Then start drawing circles with your forearms
  • Keep your abs as tight as possible
  • Keep your core and hips from twisting and swaying sideways
  • Finally, I know this sounds funny, but your butt and your glutes can be big helps with the exercise

The Proper Form Of “Stir The Pot Exercise"

Before you start, it is important to understand the proper form first. Keep in mind that there are numerous important subtleties associated with the exercise.

Try avoid making small mistakes because they will add up eventually and sufficiently diminish the benefits of the exercise.

Despite that it might seem pretty easy at first, you’ll likely be surprised by how challenging it actually is.

​The proper stir the pot form can be summarized as following:

1. The Starting Position:

  • First and foremost, you need to find a large Swiss ball (or exercise ball)
  • Rest your elbows and forearms on the ball and get into an appropriate planking position
  • Your arms should be bent at a 90-degree angle
  • Your body should form a perfectly straight line, from your head to your ankles
  • Keep your abs braced tight and engage your glutes
  • Also don’t forget to squeeze your ass during the exercise

2. The Motion:

From the starting position, progress by simply moving your forearms in a small circular motion. Your entire body must remain stationary. Here are some requirements:

  • You should maintain a neutral neck position and restraint from moving your head up or down. Think of it like you are holding something under your chin and don’t want to drop; it certainly helps
  • Try to keep your hip up and your knees straight. It might sound simple but it really isn’t. Keeping your glutes engaged is very useful in this situation
  • Ensure that your upper back does not round over by ensuring that your scapula is kept down and back at all time

​3. Recommended Routines:

  • Due to its simple nature, “stir the pot” exercise can be easily implemented into your regular training program
  • “Stir the pot” exercise can either be performed for a set number of reps, or performed continually for a set time period
  • It is recommended to count the actual reps, typically between 8 - 15 reps per set, for 3 - 4 set in total

It doesn’t seem like a lot, but if you’ve never perform this exercise before, I guarantee that you will be shocked by how it fires up your core and leaves some soreness the following day.

4. Take It Up A Notch:

  • It is advised to step up your challenge once you are able to perform about 15 total reps in proper form
  • You can raise the bar once you grew accustomed to the exercise by forming bigger circles with your forearms, and/or by narrowing your stance
  • Start slow with small circles. Try to focus on expanding the range of motion and the size of the circles. You should aim to raise the difficulty as much as possible

Side Notes

Here are some technique tips from professionals; keep them in mind when you perform the exercise.

  • During the exercise, you should keep your core braced tight
  • You should start with small, smooth motion with your arms. Try to increase the difficulty once you are familiar with the exercise and the proper form
  • It is my recommendation that you perform the same number of reps in each direction

You should integrate Stir The Pot Exercise into your regular workout plan, because let’s face it, we all know how boring planking is in general.

And while Stir the pot exercise is an absolute step-up, it is still boring after a while. It can be done between sets of heavier compound lift, or just by itself at the end of a session.

  • What you will achieve by doing this exercise are better abs and stronger cores to fuel your explosive movements and other heavier exercises

You’ll be amazed with the results after a fairly short time period.

“Stir the pot” is among one of the highly-recommended abdominal and core exercises. It is an ab and core workout like you’ve never done before, so you should definitely give it a try.


There you have it folks, another powerful tool, if not the best out there, for your toolbox for core development. As you may know, I’d love to hear from the readers; for example, what you think of the exercise and how it helps with your everyday training. 

Now that you have mastered the plank and the stir the pot exercise, the next step in developing your core even further is to try a more difficult variation, called the Planche. Read all about it here.


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