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Rotational Strength Training: The Forgotten Plane


Okay, I have to admit I stole that title from DVRT master, Cory Cripe as I was asking him for some ideas of topics that might be of interest to coaches as I get prepared already to present at some national conference next year. I loved the idea of rotational strength training but I asked him, “do you think people really care?” 

Shocking to many people this type of movement isn’t really rotational strength training. 

My question really stems from wondering if people really value what training different planes of motion can offer as far as serious results in their strength training programs. Initially, my gut reaction is that people really don’t care because they don’t understand how different planes of motion can unlock their resiliency and strength. 

strength training

We use the planes of motion seamlessly in life and sport but don’t give them much thought in training🤔

How is that possible that something can be so important in strength training and yet we seem not to care? Largely it is due to the fact that when we move in these other planes of motion we can’t lift the same weight we can manage as when we work in the more stable and familiar sagittal plane. 

strength training

This type of attitude about strength training definitely doesn’t move our understanding of movement strength training forward. 

Don’t get me wrong, the sagittal plane strength training is good and very necessary to build that foundation. However, in anything OUTSIDE of the gym, we don’t just move up and down. When we move laterally and in rotation so much MORE is happening to our bodies that we integrate MORE of the qualities of functional fitness than most people realize.

Like what? 

-Better shoulder and hip mobility

-Stronger developed glutes

-Ability to create more force

-More stable pelvis

-Greater strength in different ranges of motion

Doesn’t that sound pretty awesome? Yet, looking at a serious effort to put in lateral or rotational work is missing from 99% of strength training programs. I know, I know, there are some now what I call token lateral and rotational movements. However, even when I see strength training programs try to integrate these planes of motion I think they totally misunderstand them. 

These DVRT drills are all great representations how we can bring other planes of motion into our strength training whether moving THROUGH the planes or resisting them. 

Rotational strength training is probably the MOST abused because people STILL think that rotation comes from the trunk and NOT the hips! Yes, I know “whipping” something around your head is really cool and you can get a great Game of Thrones feeling from doing some of those types of drills, but most times those are anti-rotational exercises.

Yes, the weight in DVRT drills like I demonstrate is moving around my body, but when we talk about rotational strength training we are referring to the action of my body, not the weight. 

That doesn’t mean we have to use ONLY rotational drills to teach the qualities of proper rotation. In fact, DVRT UK Master, Greg Perlaki shows how we use some of our anti-rotational drills to build the control and strength to better deal with the complexity of rotational training.

Ultimately, like I shared yesterday (you can read HERE), it all comes down to your footwork! Yes, your feet actually create the action of the hips that give rotational training power and helps us then learn how to stabilize our core from the top down.

Above are some ways we progress rotational strength training using concepts of keeping the torso upright to adding in more power and reflexive strength with using more of a hip hinge. 

Rotation SHOULD be something we emphasize in training because it is such a big part of what our bodies do as humans. That doesn’t mean we have to jump into incredibly challenging and explosive rotational exercises, but SHOULD be laying the foundation to having more sophisticated strength! One more for good measure as you will see below how I break down one of the most common rotational exercises that the majority of people misunderstand.