Your core is the center of your universe.
Every major movement and expenditure of energy stems from your core.
Your “core” includes your six-pack, of course, but there's a lot more to it than that.
When it comes to core strength, having a six-pack doesn’t necessarily equate to a strong core. At least not a well-rounded one. You need to consider the entire corset of muscles if you want to improve core strength in its entirety.
The core consists of a girdle of muscles that stretch all the way around to your lower back, glutes, hips and obliques (Oblique Sling System)
To be able to have a completely solid core that can stabilize under any condition, you need to hit it from all angles, just like every other muscle group.
You need to work through multiple planes of motion - forwards, backwards, sideways, anti-rotationally and rotationally.
Let's look to other exercises to put this into perspective...
When working your shoulders, you wouldn’t just do presses, would you? No, you’d do lateral raises, front raises, and so on.
Yet, for core training, many people only think about crunches, leg raises and planks. And while these abdominal exercises, which are in the sagittal plane of motion, are staples to core training, they are not the only ones that should be performed if you want to have relentless core strength.
For that, we need to look to anti-core training and rotational exercises as well…
Now, as to not turn this post into a book, for today we are going to focus on one part of anti core training...anti-rotation exercises.
Anti-rotation exercises are movements (or static movements) that require you to resist a force that is trying to cause your trunk to rotate.
One of the main functions of the rotary muscles of the core is to resist or prevent rotation. This is exactly what anti-rotation exercises train you for.
They train core stability through the transverse plane of motion without rotating your torso.
There are many benefits of this, which we will get into. We will also run you through some of the best anti-rotation exercises and training tools.
But first, let’s clear up the common misconception between anti-rotation and anti-lateral exercises.
Both anti-rotation exercises and anti lateral exercises use unilateral movements, unilateral loads or a combination of both. However, the difference between anti-rotation and anti-lateral is, anti-rotation is resisting a force that is trying to make you twist, while anti-lateral is resisting a force that is trying to make you lean.
It’s as simple as that. If the exercise you are performing is trying to make you rotate, then it’s anti-rotation. If it’s trying to make you lean one way, it’s anti-lateral. That said, some "movement patterns" can have a combination of both. This is especially true with tools like steel maces and kettlebells.
Typically, if you are using an offset weight and you are in a neutral position or split stance, that is anti-lateral.
If you are using an offset weight in a hinge position, bent over, that is anti-rotation.
Moreover, if you are dealing with an outside force coming from you diagonally or horizontally, that is anti-rotational. For example, if you have a resistance band wrapped around something anywhere to the side of you, it will be pulling you towards its anchor, which will cause your trunk to rotate (or resist that rotation).
In any case, it’s pretty simple to figure it out if it is anti-lateral or anti-rotation. Again, you are resisting a force that trying to make you twist = anti-rotation; the force you are resisting is trying to make you lean = anti-lateral.
The reason we bring up something that seems very rudimentary is because we so often see anti-lateral exercises bundled into anti-rotation, and while that really isn’t hurting anyone as they are both effective forms of anti core training, we just like things to be called what they are.
There are many benefits of anti-rotation exercises.
Some could argue that anti-rotation movements are “fluff” exercises. We definitely don’t take that view, but we also can understand the sentiment. If you do strength training, aka the big lifts (bench, squat, deadlift) and unilateral exercises like split squats regularly, then your core is going to be worked and your stability should be good.
However, you will still be missing out on anti-rotation exercises. A lot of people have motor control issues, and anti-rotation exercises can help improve this and speed up the process for improving your overall strength training game. Anti-Rotation exercises will give you a stronger, more stable base, which ultimately improves performance.
For athletes, anti-rotation exercises are super important, as many of the benefits directly correlate to an improvement in their sports performance. These auxiliary-type exercises can really make a big difference to their game.
All in all, anti-rotation exercises are sort of like a movement hack…and as coaches, we’ve seen many clients get an immediate positive impact on their performance by performing anti core training.
So, here are the main benefits of anti-rotation exercises:
If any of the benefits above sound appealing to you, then you will benefit from anti-rotation exercises.
Give them a try, if they aren’t as effective for you or your client as they are for others, then move on. At least you tried. That said, we are confident that if you stick with anti-rotation exercises by simply adding them into your routine here and there, you will reap the benefits.
Now, if you are a rotational athlete - baseball, golf, boxing, mma, BJJ, or even football and basketball, anti-rotation exercises are a must. You are going to see direct improvements in your sports performance by performing anti-rotation exercises. We are talking balance, coordination, explosiveness, agility, stronger rotation power as the two go hand-in-hand, and you’ll be much less likely to get a rotational injury.
Steel maces, because the weight is offset. Moreover, you can control just how heavy the offset weight will be depending on how you position your grip on the long lever.
With steel maces, you can combine unilateral movements with the unilateral loads, which makes for a double-unilateral-whammy. The steel mace is truly the perfect tool for anti-rotation (and rotation) exercises. Get into any hinge position with the mace in a horizontal position, and BOOM, you are performing an anti-rotation movement.
Resistance bands, because it’s an elastic force, unlike weights which are a gravitational force. So, you wrap them around something at your side, whether low, middle or high and you will be working rotational or anti-rotational movements.
What about cable machines?
Although cable machines are good and can do many of the same things as resistance bands, bands are portable and can be used anywhere anytime.
You’ll see why we choose these two training tools now, as we are about to jump into 10 anti-rotation exercises using both steel maces, resistance bands…AND a combination of both!
Here are 10 anti-rotation exercises using steel maces, resistance bands, and a combination of both.
Remember, with the steel mace, you can increase the difficulty by bring your hands closer to the end of the handle or easier by bringing them closer to the head of the mace.
For resistance bands, the thinner the band the easier the movements will be. As these are anti-rotation exercises, we prefer to use our yellow, black and blue bands.
Note for trainers: These exercises are great for any type of client who needs core development and strength. How you incorporate it into their workouts is up to you, but we do offer some ideas on this after running through all the exercises.
1. High Hinge Offset Row
2. Single Arm 10 to 2
3. Glute Bridge With Offset Chest Press
4. Pull Through Plank
6. Advanced Mace Push Up
7. Banded Single Arm Rear Delt Fly
8. Banded One Arm Bent Over Row
9. Banded Mace Forward Hold with Squat
10. Kneeling Banded Mace Front Presses
The great things about the anti-rotation exercises that we showed you above is, they can also be part of your main workout, especially if you are doing metabolic workouts, HIIT or circuit training. They train anti-rotation PLUS strength and muscle endurance. So they don’t necessarily have to be done only during an ab workout.
Or...you could add some of these as a finisher to your regular workout, as a “mini” anti-rotation ab workout.
For example, try adding 3 of these exercises to the end of your workouts a few times a week. Stick with 8 to 12 reps of a challenging weight and do 3-4 sets to get the most out of your anti-rotation finisher.
In regards to core training…
For best results, train your core 2 or 3 times a week.
Hit anti-rotation, anti-lateral, anti-extension and the typical core exercises (planks, leg raises, crunches, ab rolls). You can do one of each during each ab workout or you can break them up into different days. Play around with it, there is no one recipe. See what works for you and keeps you motivated.
Let us know if you have any questions about any of these anti-rotation exercises. Hope you enjoy giving them a try!
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