‘I’m a Competitive B-Girl, and These Are the 4 Moves I Rely on for Building Upper Body Strength and Mobility’
“I hope that women feel empowered and competent seeing other women doing their thing, because I know that helps me,” says Edra, a member of the Red Bull BC One All Star crew.
Watching videos of Edra spinning on her head and hands, and moving her feet a mile a minute—all while looking incredibly cool, graceful, and strong—you’d have no idea that there were times in her life when she felt less than confident.
“I've been insecure about my own body changing and like getting bigger muscles or having bigger arms,” Edra says. “Recently, my perspective has been changing because I think there's a lot of role models, a lot of women role models, who are very much open about just really loving and accepting how their body looks, especially if they're an athlete that needs to have upper body strength.”
Edra cites Serena Williams, Simone Biles, and Naomi Osaka as inspirations who have helped her embrace her built upper body. “They're dope as hell,” Edra says. “So I should be proud of my body, too.”
Edra, who will be competing in the Red Bull BC One World Final on November 12, certainly knows a thing or two about upper body strength. In order to master the spins, handstands, and flips that make her a champion, she has to engage her shoulders, arms, back, chest, and core. The moves also require grip strength, as well as mobility and flexibility so she can twist and bend with control.
“Training mobility as a breaker, as a b-girl, is important because we want to create new pathways for our movement so that we can create more moves or new transitions to add to our arsenal,” Edra says.
That’s why some of Edra’s favorite exercises in an upper body workout combine elements of strength, mobility, and flexibility. If you want to work out your upper body like a b-girl, here are some moves to try.
Edra loves using pushups as a base because they engage your whole body, but also because there is so much potential for variation. One of her favorite types is a yogic spin on the classic move, because it’s a chest-opening stretch as well as a strength-builder.
To do it, start in a downward dog position. Then lower your face to the ground by bending your elbows out, like you’re doing a pushup from a pike position. From there, lower your hips to the ground and move into upward dog, arching your back, straightening your arms, and lifting your face to the sky.
Edra does pull-ups, but she actually finds just hanging with her arms straight from a pull-up bar to be more challenging, and rewarding—and it’s a great way to work on grip strength.
“It stretches out the whole body,” Edra says. “It helps your body come into alignment. And then it also helps with like forearm and wrist strength."
Handstands are a huge part of Edra’s routines, so it would make sense that she spends a lot of time training them. If you haven’t worked up to doing full handstands yet, grab a yoga mat and place it against a wall. Practice transferring your weight to your hands and kicking up your feet to rest on the wall. You can also stand with your legs wide apart, bend over, and even just lean all the way into your hands to put as much of your bodyweight into your upper body and out of your legs as you can.
Also called the bear, this killer move involves starting in a tabletop position with your hands and knees on the floor. Then, you lift up your knees two inches from the floor, and hold yourself. Edra likes to play with picking up one arm and one leg, adding in shoulder taps, or crawling backwards and forwards.
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