When you think of your core muscles — the muscles spanning between your hips and shoulders, especially your abdominals, and spinal erectors — you probably think six-pack abs. But, and we hope this isn’t a surprise, your core is what keeps you from twisting yourself into injury.
If you’re sitting there thinking that you don’t twist much throughout the day, that’s where you’re wrong. Every time you take a step, your body shifts and wants to twist toward the leg you’re stepping with. It’s your core muscles that prevent this potentially unsafe action from taking place, and it’s anti-rotational exercises that help develop this type of stability-enhancing core strength.
“Simply put, anti-rotational exercises are designed to help you increase your overall stability and prevent unsafe changes in direction,” says Dr. Brian Brabham, certified strength coach and associate professor of exercise and sport science at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. “They also have the ability to increase overall strength due to the increase in core stability.” Or as Lebron James said in a recent Instagram post, “No core no nothing.”
Starting an Anti-Rotation Core Program
Chances are, you’re already doing a few anti-rotation exercises, and you may not even know it. “Many exercises have the ability to become anti-rotational by simply standing on one foot,” Brabham says. Here are the best exercises Brabham suggests adding to your next routine.
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Performed with or without weight, single-leg deadlifts are a prime example of a movement that requires core strength and engagement to prevent unwanted twisting. The goal is to keep your hips level and square to the floor throughout the exercise, even as you hinge from the hips and change your body’s position, all while balanced on one leg.
- Stand tall, feet hip-distance apart, holding a dumbbell or kettlebell in your right hand.
- Shift your weight to your left foot, lifting your right foot off the ground.
- Tighten your core, hinge forward at the hips, and lower the weight toward the ground as you raise your right leg leg behind you. Keep your weight in your left heel and try to keep your hips square and level.
- When your body forms a “T,” use your glutes, hamstrings, and core to pull your torso back to standing as you lower your right foot back toward the ground.
- Complete 10 to 12 repetitions per side.
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Slosh Pipe Walking Lunges
Doing walking lunges while holding a water pipe or slosh pipe adds an additional challenge because the water constantly shifts within the pipe. This forces you to brace your core to resist your body’s natural rotational inclinations as well as the changing pull of the water sloshing within the tube.
- Stand tall with a slosh pipe balanced across your shoulders, your feet hip-distance apart, and your core engaged.
- Take a wide step forward with your right foot, planting your heel before bending both knees, lowering your back knee toward the floor. Keep your torso tall and your chest lifted throughout.
- Press through your right foot to return to standing as you step your left foot forward, past your right foot, to continue the exercise.
- Complete 10 to 12 lunges per leg.