5 Steps to Master the Front Spinal Wave Exercise

Note from John: I’ve got a lot of articles half-written, and just haven’t had the time to finish them. I decided to shoot a quick instructional video to hold you over while I’m moving my family across town this week. With the impending arrival of Siffer-baby, we needed another bedroom to hold all the stuff we got from the baby shower! Anyways, on to the tutorial…

The front spinal wave exercise is a fun drill that could pass as a cool party trick to oooo and ahhh your friends.

How to Progress:

Take as much time as you need to fully learn each step. If you don’t feel competent at one level, spend more time practicing either that level or the one before it until you feel like you’ve maxed out your potential at that level. The kneeling hip extension into the forward spinal wave will likely be the most challenging step because your mind will try to hijack your movement. Just keep practicing and eventually you’ll get it.

1) Practice your basic pushup technique
2) Practice the rolling on your stomach drill (modified locust pose)
3) Practice the kneeling hip extension into forward spinal wave
4) Practice the full spinal wave from a ball of foot squat starting position
5) Practice the full spinal wave from standing

If you have any questions about performing any of the above progressions or if you have any ideas for how to increase the sophistication, please post a comment below. To learn more unconventional exercises like this one, check out the Tactical Gymnastics program.

Fitness Professional


5 Responses

  1. Nice instruction. Good breakdown progression.
    I’m not totally clear, however on the benefits of the movement. I can see spinal flexibility, some measure of general flexibility, certainly increased body awareness and control. At high reps, it would increase strength, kind of like a dynamic hindu pushup. I can see especially if you perform the spinal wave, then pop your hips up, follow through with your feet curling back over your head and down into another spinal wave. Repetitions of that would be a nice drill.
    Am I missing anything?
    Thanks again for the vid.

    • Hi Dave,

      Like I said in the video, it’s just one exercise and everyone can determine both how they use it and for what purpose. For the general fitness trainee, all of the benefits you mentioned are spot-on.
      For more specific benefits, this particular exercise is excellent for training the movement and conditioning attributes involved in a full hip snap and spinal wave, which are quite common movements in many athletic and real world situations.

      For example, the spinal wave can be used to improve a hip toss or shoulder throw in grappling, or certain strikes in boxing. It can be used as an assistance exercise for the olympic lifts (whether with a barbell, kettlebell, stone, etc.) and even to improve kipping pullup efficiency, too. There are many purposes which this particular drill can serve, but it’s up to you to fill the role.

      And yes, the spinal wave can be done for repetitions – this is actually something we practiced at the CST Instructor Certification seminar I attended last year.

  2. Thanks John, this is a great drill. The incremental steps are well made. I love it. And quite a coincidence – I just ordered the Body Flow DVD three days ago, before I found this post. :-)
    I already have the Body Flow book but I can’t learn movement from books – never could.

    • Thanks Andrea. You’ll love the Bodyflow drills, and will find them quite useful as transition pieces in Prasara.

  3. Hello!

    Wow, I remember that exercise, we used to try this at school but I could never get it right. This video will definitely help. It’s a neat trick, bad that camera wasn’t from the side at the beginning.


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