The Power of Rotation

The Power of Rotation

Recently, I’ve caught myself saying “anti-rotation” way too much.

Why are planks good? Anti-rotation.
Why are pallof presses good? Anti-rotation.
Why are chops good? Anti-rotation.
Why are body saws good? Anti-rotation.
Why is the Tin Man awesome? Anti-rotation.


While I am an avid proponent of anti-rotation training and believe it’s excellent for a plethora of reasons (i.e. TVA and anterior core activation, low back pain reduction), some degree of rotation is needed in programming for athletes. Moreover, we shouldn’t be training people to be as stiff as the Tin Man.

I don’t know about you but I feel any lumber spine flexion is world-ending for some trainers, especially those who tout anti-rotation.

A couple examples: a client performs 10 reps of crunches and apparently the zombie apocalypse is imminent. Someone rolls out of bed in the morning (lumbar flexion) and Britney Spears is suddenly a man. Or someone bends over to pick up a penny and the White House goes up in flames.

To that end, movement of the spine ain’t that dramatic. Though, trainers are still under the impression anti-rotation training should be the bulk of our programming.

Sure, I love me some pallof press variations, and believe anti-rotation movements have carryover to sports, especially soccer.

In fact, I can think of several reasons anti-rotation is GOOD for soccer players: holding off defenders, balancing better when executing moves, and improving posture for maximal sprinting.

Which reminds me, core stability is needed for sprinting. However, recently, I saw a tweet from a soccer sport scientist that 32% of sprints in soccer are executed with the torso rotated, or separated, from the lower extremity. And 37% of sprints are NOT initiated linearly.

My reaction:


Certainly a light bulb moment for me.

Admittedly, I felt like I’d been failing as a soccer strength and conditioning coach. That night, I combed through my programs, only to find an entire menu of anti-rotation training, and one, sad rotational movement.

Yeah. I suck.

Sure, I’d been doing change of direction drills before our lifts, but I still felt the rotational component was missing on the strength training side of things.

Instead of retiring as a strength coach to be an Instagram-yoga-pants-hot-chick-celebrity-who-takes-perfectly-staged-photos, I kept my job, went back in the gym, and tweaked a few things.

Taking the conversation back to my excess of anti-rotational exercises in my soccer programs, was I wrong? No. But could I have cut back? Yes.

You see, I used to fear letting my athletes cores move freely. Now, I guess you can say I want them to move like soccer players.

Why?

Because in the game, they swirl, twirl, twist, and turn both on an off the ball. Why NOT include more rotational training?

People move better. People are quicker. People can decelerate and accelerate. People can sprint like in the game. People can bend it like Beckham. People are just…better.

With that said, I’ve added these movements:

I like the transverse landmine lunge for several reasons:

– There’s a rotational component
– There’s a hip mobility component
– There’s a nice-stretch-in-the-groin component
– There’s an I’m-awesome-and-wearing-a-vintage-Liverpool-kit component

I enjoy the band rotation for a couple reasons:

– There is a core stability/control component (you don’t have to be stiff to train core stability)
– The hips and core work together to move the body in the direction it wants to go, which is something we see when athletes are changing direction efficiently.

I like this prowler push variation for a couple reasons:

– Initiates the spring in a lateral fashion
– Improves acceleration
– Reinforces forward torso lean for acceleration
– Increase quadriceps and hip flexor strength

Now that I’ve gone over some rotational movements I’ve been using, you’re probably wondering where I place my anti-rotation movements.

Recently, I’ve found them to be a great activation warm up, or even core circuit at the end. Truthfully, you don’t need as many as you think, especially because you’re getting anti-rotation and core stability from basic strength drills like squats, deadlifts, push-ups and pull-ups.

Just something to keep in mind.

So get your athletes rotating.

It improves athleticism. It improves movement. It improves sport specific technical skills.

I’d also argue rotational ability may help you land a date with a girl. Nonetheless, if a guy’s Tinder profile looks like this:

Agility – 8/10
Looks – 5/10
Personality – 3/10
Rotational Power – 10/10

…I’d give him a chance.

The power of rotation is tremendous.

4 Comments
  • Shane
    Posted at 20:48h, 29 April Reply

    Love this and I found my self laughing . Entertaining and informative. Love the prowler variation also. I love using med balls for rotational movements and their fun also.

    • erica
      Posted at 21:36h, 29 April Reply

      Thank you!!

  • Jay
    Posted at 19:35h, 01 May Reply

    Have been antirotation much of my life… but recently got a thing about the rotation thing – we probably read the same studies… Love your Landmine Lunges. Did them today and will incorporate. Also like basic Russian Twists though. And even trunk rotation for warmup I think have a point.

    So… guess… we‘ll have to add to our planks (but you can rotate from side to side plank, if you like… its a pretty good one…)

    Cheers,

    Jay

    • erica
      Posted at 11:20h, 02 May Reply

      Yes, sometimes you have to venture out of the usual planes!

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