You don't get to be Chelsea Handler's trainer by being boring. Ben Bruno, who trains Handler and other celebrities like Kate Upton, has a unique philosophy on fitness. He's not a fan of burpees and he's been known to whip up a challenging combo move when a client needs a little more challenge. And when his existing roster of abs moves isn't quite doing the trick? He invents a brand new one.
This week, Bruno took to Instagram to demonstrate a core move he made up. "I have no idea what to call it, but it’s awesome," he captioned his video. The exercise is a combination lying leg raise and an isometric band-apart, using a resistance band and medicine ball to amp up a traditional leg lift.
You can check it out, via @benbrunotraining, below:
We called Bruno to get the full details on how to try this next time your own workout needs a little bit of newness.
You've probably tried leg raises in the past. This move takes the core-strengthening staple to the next level with a resistance band.
"The reason for the band is two-fold," Bruno tells SELF. "One, it engages the upper-back muscles, so you're working your upper back and your core at the same time. Two, it fixes one common problem with the leg raise exercise—often, people arch their back too much. But the band encourages you to bring your ribs down and create a neutral spine."
Start by lying faceup, holding a resistance band with each hand gripping one end. While your arms pull apart the band, slowly raise your legs up until the bottoms of your feet face the ceiling. Then, slowly lower your legs back down until they're a few inches off the ground. You can also grip a medicine ball (of whatever weight feels comfortable to you) between your feet for additional resistance, like Bruno does.
It's important to stay aware of your lower back during the lowering portion of the leg lift, says Bruno.
When your legs are at the bottom, keep your lower back flush against the floor. Then, as you lift at a "nice controlled tempo, without using momentum," Bruno advises clients to allow the tailbone and pelvis to lift a little bit. "A slight lift with help engage the abdominals and not just the hip flexors," he explains. "Pop your butt off the floor just slightly. Keep a neutral spine but create a hip lift with a slight tilt."
At first, it may feel too difficult to keep a flat back at the bottom—and that's normal.
"You'll know it's too hard if you have to arch your back at the bottom," says Bruno. To modify, he has clients bend their legs to a tabletop position, which helps anchor your lower back to the ground. You can also ditch the weight in between your feet it if it makes it too difficult to maintain proper form. Furthermore, you can also change how low you bring your legs toward the ground—the lower you get, the more core strength it demands.
To start, Bruno suggests trying this move first with straight legs, then moving to bent legs once your muscles get tired, since that's when you're likely to start breaking form. "With my clients, I start with the straight leg version, then move to the easier variation once they're tired." He suggests trying 8-10 reps with straight legs, followed by a set of 8-10 reps with bent legs. Again, if you can't keep your lower back flat on the floor when doing it with straight legs, simply do the bent-leg version instead. If you are a beginner and 8-10 reps feels like too much, start with three sets of six reps instead. As you build core strength, you can work up to more reps.
Technically, since this is a new move variation, we're all beginners—so take your time to master this exercise. Who knows, it may just become a new staple in your routine.