Dryland Tip: Body Saw Core Exercise

Photo by Kyle Staggs

Purpose: “Functional strength” involves strengthening which transmits force through the body. This is in contrast of “isolated strength” which focuses around one joint. Stiffness, particularly in the spine, is often sought by strength coaches and rehabilitation specialists as spine stability may prevent spinal buckling, as well as providing a stable surface for faster limb movement.

Suspension straps are popular devices as they provide novel methods for open chain core training, similar to swimming.

Compared to the hanging straight leg raise and hanging bent leg raise, the body saw had similar anterior core activation, but greater serratus anterior activation, and less spine compression.

Directions: Body saw – with the feet suspended in the labile suspension straps, knees bent and the Body saw – with the feet suspended in the labile suspension straps, knees bent and the hands or forearms on the ground to support the weight of the body, participants were asked to straighten their legs and “saw” back and forth as far as possible over 2 s (i.e., 2 beats of the metronome). Once at full extension, the position was held for 1 beat before the participant “sawed” back to the original knees-bent position over 2 beats. The starting position was held for 1 beat before the next repetition began.


  1. McGill S, Andersen J, Cannon J. Muscle activity and spine load during anterior chain whole body linkage exercises: the bodysaw, hanging leg raise and walkout from a push-up. J Sports Sci. 2014 Aug 11:1-8. [Epub ahead of print]
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Author: G. John Mullen

Dr. G. John Mullen received his Doctorate in Physical Therapy from the University of Southern California and a Bachelor of Science of Health from Purdue University. He is the owner of COR (www.trainingcor.com), strength and conditioning consultant, creator of the Swimmer's Shoulder System (http://www.corswimmershoulder.com), Dryland for Swimmers (http://www.drylandforswimmers.com), and is chief editor of Swimming Science (www.swimmingscience.net) and the Swimming Science Research Review.

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