Build Bulletproof Strength: Rotational Exercises for Athletes
Building strong external obliques isn’t just for bodybuilders or fighters. Training rotational force helps athletes of all sports develop strength in an upright position.
For sports like baseball, discus, hammer, and shotput throwing, rotational training is a no-brainer, as it closely mimics the actions of competition. But postural strength is an important factor in all sports performance. Not only does a strong core protect our internal organs from injury, but it also allows us to maintain a stiff torso whilst being under external forces. This prevents the spine from moving in ways it’s not supposed to move. Just think of a football player getting tackled, or a strongman under a yoke.
A Three-Tiered Approach
Training rotational force strengthens anti-rotational properties, or our ability to stay facing forward and upright under external force. Using this training for anti-rotational purposes can be key to success even in events like sprinting, where minimising torso spin is critical to creating maximal downward force.
Rotational work often gets negative reviews because it can place a high amount of stress on the spine if done poorly. However, when done correctly in a way that allows for hip movement, it can be highly effective for sport performance and transfer of power.
I like to take a three-tiered approach:
- Rotational exercises: Working with trunk rotation
- Anti-rotational exercises: Not allowing rotation during the movement
- Offset exercises: Creating stress through imbalance.
Let’s have a look at a few fantastic exercises for each approach.
1. Russian Twist
This can be done either seated on the floor or using a decline bench. To increase the intensity on the lower abdominals, hold a dumbbell or weight plate in your hands, and rotate side to side under control. If you are seated on the floor, keep your feet elevated. However you do it, make sure to maintain good posture.
2. Medicine Ball Rotation Throw
Holding a medicine ball or slam ball, stand perpendicular to a solid wall (or you can throw to a partner). Throw the ball as hard as possible against the wall, rotating at the hips. You can also use the rebound (or throw back from your partner) to gain anti-rotational strength by absorbing the impact.
Can be done with a cable machine, resistance band, or even a weight plate. If using a cable or band, stand perpendicular to the fixture and turn at the torso, allowing hip rotation, then push away. Control the movement on the eccentric until complete.
1. Pallof Press
2. Plank Variations
1. Briefcase Carries
2. Uneven Farmers Walks
3. Overhead Walks
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