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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?” 

3692c5d00daf4b182d9ec33e5fc28547 - Rotational Strength Training: The Forgotten Plane

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. 

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Does training movement have to be complicated, or mean we don’t train muscles? I think both are common misunderstandings of what #functionaltraining is all about. That is why I wanted to show how simple ideas can be applied easily to create powerful programs. ___________________ 💪🏻 Inside Out Ultimate #Sandbag cleans represent a few different qualities at once. We have two movement patterns of the seven foundational human patterns. That is rotation and hip hinge so when we get exercises that accomplish more than one movement pattern they are bigger “bang for our buck” movements. This type of exercise not only focuses on power, but deceleration as well. __________________ 💪🏻 Single arm #TRX rows are a great anti-rotational and pulling movement. Learning how to the core and the lower body integrates with our upper body is an important part of #functionalfitness . However, many people struggle to learn how NOT to rotate. Using the @perform_better Lever Bell we can create specific tension to help the core learn how to coordinate that anti-rotation in the movement. Meaning we get way more than just another row! __________________ 💪🏻 Shoulder lateral #squats may not look like a big deal, but when we make a squat more multi-planar we not only have a more challenging exercise, but a more effective one! Such movements teach our core and glutes how to resist the frontal plane as we move into the #squat , the very important qualities that these muscles MUST perform in life to reduce our change for injury. Having the Ultimate Sandbag in the shoulder position amplifies the frontal plane stress upon the body making our squats more 3-D. __________________ 💪🏻 Alternating #kettlebell sprinter presses also have more than meets the eye. This off-set position of the lower body reinforces the role of the feet in having a strong press as well as challenging the core to a higher level. Such variables mean we have to learn to integrate our body more effectively and efficiently to develop a stronger press. Teaching people to push as we resist motion makes such a drill a much more effective full body exercise!

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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.

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We can’t say we are using #functionalfitness if we aren’t willing to build a systematic approach to ALL 7 of our foundational human movement patterns. Rotation is often left off many #fitnesspros list, but as you can see our bodies are wired for rotation. When we punch, kick, throw, or do any real power based movements we have large amounts of rotation. However, the rotation comes from the feet to the hips, and the core just transmits that force to the upper body. The rotation does NOT really happen in the lumbar spine. In fact, we want to keep a #plank when we are building our strength and power in rotation. That is why these 4 #DVRT drills are great ways to build up to more sophisticated exercises like our 3-D #kettlebellswing in Shoveling ……. ➡️ Learning first how to use the feet and hips while keeping the trunk stable is key. Using our “inside out” #deadlifts helps build this foundation. Creating tension by “pulling apart” the neutral grip handles engages our lats and core helping us have that strong plank while we rotate through the hips. ……. ➡️ We can add complexity when we go into the front load position where there is more stress on the body, but we try to “pull apart” the Ultimate #Sandbag to maintain that same plank. Then moving from into more rotation where we hip hinge as well as rotate we develop more complexity in the movement. …… ➡️ As we add more power to our movement, we have to learn to be more reflexive with our #corestrength . Using diagonal patterns and the learning to quickly stabilize overhead as we rotate is a great way to build a stronger foundation to the dynamic motions and reactive strength that Shoveling requires. …… ➡️ The Around the World is one of the best precursor exercises as it teaches us to move the weight with our hips and keep our core stable but reflexive as our arms just direct the weight. We combine lift/chop patterns with quick “pulses” of plank work in the front and back of the body. Learning to be fluid and knowing exactly WHEN to create tension is critical in that more sophisticated #strengthtraining . The type of strength we really want to build when we talk about brining our strength to life!

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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.