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Spread Eagle and Water Skier

Posted Aug 24 2008 3:43pm

Flying Eagle is an advanced tower exercise- its fun and feels great! It requires a strong ability to connect to the "core" while in spinal extension, which is not easy. Its also a great chest opener, hip flexor stretch, and spine lengthener.

The base of Flying Eagle is the beginner exercise and stretch, Push Through. Its so important to understand that, during Push Through, the bar is controlled and directed by the core muscles and shoulder girdle, not the arms. Push Through also involves spinal articulation and flexibility, as if the spine is snaking through the movements, not just going back and forth in "one piece".

Once you're able to do the Push Through exercise smoothly and with proper control, there are a few fun variations that can come with it. I've already posted about one stretchy variation on Push Through, if you want to check it out, see the link at the bottom of this post.

For Flying Eagle, do a few Push Throughs to warm up. After two or three, pause at the point when you're pushing up on the bar and stretching the spine upwards. Then, scoop the abs and round the spine back, bringing the bar with you, as if you're about to do another Push Through.

Begin to round so much that you actually slide under the bar and lay on your back on the mat.

Water Skier

Once you're on your back, you are ready for Water Skier. The balls of your feet are on the bars, but the heels are not. Connect your shoulders into your back so the collar bones are wide and your shoulder girdle can control the Push Through bar as you move into Water Skier.

Be sure to keep the arms straight the whole time, because the instinct may be to bend them. You may feel more secure if you hook your thumbs under the Push Through bar. Lift your back right up off the mat in one piece, with the legs extending, and float up into a plank position with your body. You're water skiing!

To come back down, bend the knees and sent the tailbone forward, so you can lay right back down on the mat in one piece with the spine, back in the position you were in just before you came up into Water Skier. Then, in one movement, push with the legs and come up to the seated position of Push Through. Once you're there, take one round of Push Through before your next Water Skier.

Spread Eagle

This is really just Water Skier with a back bend. Its nice to add in one Spread Eagle after a couple Water Skiers for an extra stretch.

Once you're up in Water Skier, bend the knees slightly, open the collar bones, and arch the upper back. The whole spine is in extension, and its important to keep the abdominals engaged so the low back has some support here.

Its also important to think of the length of the spine and your abs stretching long, as if both are stretching away from the tower. This focus on lengthening will counter-balance the shortness that could come into the low back.

There is another version with straight legs, which is more of just an upper back arch. In my opinion, its not really as good because it keeps the low back too rigid, but its nice for people who have the flexibility for it.

To come out of Spread Eagle, you have to return to Water Skier. Then, proceed to come down and finish the routine just as we did for Water Skier.

You can think of the whole sequence like this: Push up, scoop back to lay down, lift up to a plank (Water Skier), bend the knees and arch back (Spread Eagle), come back to the plank, bend the knees to lay down, sit up, Push Through.

Its not really as complicated to do as it sounds, and its really great fun :)

This is not a good exercise for someone with low back problems or problems gripping with the hands. This is definitely an advanced exercise.

I have heard a story about a tower coming out of the wall during this exercise, so its very important to know if your tower is properly secured into the wall and into the studs in the wall.

You can buy an accessory for the tower called the Spread Eagle Foot Plate, though its entirely not necessary to have one:

Here is another post I wrote on another variation of Push Through: Read more!

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