Stairway To Heaven

5 Jun

by Phillip Tomlinson

Have you ever seen an opportunity that spells pure delight?  One that awakens a flock of butterflies within?  I bet you have.  It’s instantaneous, then you feel it and, as that smile purses your lips, you  reach out and grab the moment by the horns.

And I suspect you already know that, as far as opportunities go, one man’s floor is another man’s ceiling.  

Then, too, if you’re looking up —  setting your sights high — it sometimes makes a helluvah difference how you choose to get there, especially if you’re like that one guy among dozens of morning commuters who exit the train on Manhattan’s Lexington Avenue line at 64th Street.

If you’ve ever exited at that stop you’re accustomed to ascending via one very steep escalator and then another, each seemingly on its way to the skies instead of street level.  Of course, on either side of those two escalators, are two stairs that — needless to say, when it comes to going up — are hardly traveled. 

Hardly traveled except when it comes to the one guy among the dozens of other commuters because, that’s right, you guessed it, he never takes the escalators. 

No, sir.

Instead, he’s staked his claim to those pieces of real estate no one else seems to care for. 

Yes, those two stairways are his.  Well, at least for the time it takes him to sprint up one and then, the other — without skipping a beat.  Let’s just say he’s firing on all cylinders up the stairway to heaven.

This, in plain view, is the quality of  life core strength and conditioning afford you.  It is the cornerstone of balance, flexibility and endurance.  You should also know that as you get older these are keys to reducing your risk in terms of falls and injuries.   A stable core is the pillar on which our entire body sits — as Mark Verstegen director of the elite training center Athlete’s Performance and author of the book Core Performance informs us.

Upper body strength, the ability to perform daily tasks and play most sports, depend on strong legs, hips and back.  In short, this is your stairway to heaven — a heavenly base for any movement you do.

But just how do you get on the stairway? 

Exercise.  And not just any exercise.  In fact, your best bet is to employ multi-joint exercises that’ll not only work your abdominal area, but your hips, back and legs as well.

Here’s something from the BodinSync prescription:


Modified Hand Walk


  1. Stand with your feet shoulder with apart.   
  2. Bend from the waist, while still keeping your legs straight, placing your palms on the floor as in diagram 1. Your flexibility will determine the distance between your hands and your feet.  At this point you should be feeling the stretch in your hamstrings.
  3. Walk your hands out away from your feet until your body is in a push-up position as in diagram 2.  Pause for five seconds.
    Walk your hands back in to where you started as in diagram 1. 

    Diagram 3

    Diagram 1

    Diagram 2

  4. Bend your knees approximately at a 45 degree angle.
  5. Pick one leg up off the floor while balancing on the other.
  6. Raise your torso so that it is horizontal to the floor.
  7. Reach your hands out in front of you so that they are also horizontal to the floor while completing a straight line with your torso.
  8. To complete the position, straighten the supporting leg while pointing the leg that is off the floor straight behind you — leading with your heel — so that it also forms a straight line with your torso as in diagram 3. 
  9. Try balancing firmly on your supporting leg for five seconds.  THATS ONE REPETITION.
  10. Start the routine again as in number 1.
  11. End the second repetition by balancing on the other leg. 

Note — This routine can be made more challenging by:

  1.  Actually doing a pushup while in the diagram 2 position.
  2.  Doing a half-squat while in the diagram 3 position. 

 By the way, like that guy motoring up the Lexington Avenue subway stairs, don’t be afraid to find your own stairway to get your exercise.  He wasn’t just doing it because he could.  He was clearly working on getting stronger.  For starters, if you’ve never done this, start by walking up, concentrating on really using those legs to lift yourself.

 Yes, expect to get a bit winded by the time you get to the top.  As you get more accustomed to this, repeat the exercise several times.  When this becomes easier, start running.  You’d be surprised how much fitter and stronger you become.  If you’d like to ratchet up your training a bit, every time you get to the top of the stairs, do two repetitions of the modified hand walk. 


One Response to “Stairway To Heaven”

  1. Mark Zimmermannm June 10, 2010 at 6:35 pm #

    Great article Sensei… Keep it coming.

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