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The Most Important Strength Training Movement Many Get Wrong!

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Asking the right questions is rather important in order to get to the answers that really make a difference to your strength training. It can be frustrating for some because what may seem like an easy strength training question could actually have far more layers than most realize. For example, this is a question I receive a lot….

Q: Is “this” exercise good?

Me: For whom?

Q: Well, for me?

Me: What are your goals, what have you been doing, do you have any injuries or conditions that impact your strength training?

Q: Never mind

The last thing that many people say in “never mind’ actually makes me very sad. Mostly because I know this means that they will go elsewhere to someone who will tell them what they want to hear. That person probably doesn’t care in giving them truth or doesn’t even know that we should ask much smarter questions about something that seems like even the simplest question.

When we get much more involved questions it can be even more challenging to answer in a responsible way because the deeper the questions, the greater the layers. A great way example of this is the confusion around rotational training. I see more and more people adding rotation to their training which is great, but unfortunately most don’t understand how rotation occurs or the role it plays in our strength training.

Few ever go to the gym and say “hey today I’m going to crush my rotational training”, but in reality we probably should. Rotation is often considered one of the “7 foundational human movements” and yet gets so little attention especially compared to squatting and hip hinges for example. A big part of the lack of understanding and value around rotational training is that people don’t get what muscles it works. It is easy to see in squatting that you hit a lot of the big leg muscles and hip hinges get a lot of the posterior chain and trunk. However, rotation? What does that even do?

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More Muscles Than We Can Name

What is often causing confusion about rotation, not knowing what muscles we are working, is actually a huge reason that we should be using rotation in some form in our training. That is because there are SO many muscles we hit, more than we can often mention. Like what?

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Research about how rotation is created int he body (you can read specifically HERE) shows that SO many muscles are needed in a coordinated fashion to perform rotation correctly.

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These muscles work synergistically not to just create rotation, but also allow as much movement as our body should want to create. You see, the rotation movement pattern refers to resisting rotation as well. That is because this these muscles also don’t want to allow the body to create excessive movement where the body risks causing injury to important structures like our lumbar spine.  Now there are some that will argue this point because they believe that the body always uses rotation to create movement. Such a theory isn’t backed really with science, nor is it a complete story. While our body likes to use rotation to create power (i.e. swinging a bat, throwing a ball, a powerful punch) the body also does a really good job in controlling how much rotation occurs and ideally where it stems from. As researchers explain:

“McGill presented 4 basic principles of spinal stability that may direct purposeful training, enhance performance, and help prevent a host of injuries related to instability: (a) proximal stiffness (meaning the lumbar spine and core) enhances distal segment athleticism and limb speed; (b) a muscular guy wire system is essential for the flexible spine to successfully bear load; (c) muscular co-activation creates stiffness to eliminate micro-movements in the joints that lead to pain and tissue degeneration; and (d) abdominal armor is necessary for some occupational, combative, and impact athletes. The serape involves these features from both ends of the core in a spiral pattern.”

So, if your head exploded a bit, it is ok. Basically the important aspects are that our body creates movement more so through the ball and socket joints (which allow great movement) in the hips and shoulders. The “core” is meant to help create a stable platform for these extremities to produce great force and even help transmit this force from the ground up to the upper body. If there is “leakage” of movement or energy in the core, the shoulders and hips lose power and mobility. That is why training how to resist rotation is so important and a feature in our DVRT strength training in movements like our lateral plank drags (when done correctly)…

As well as how we make familiar rotational resistance exercises like the Pallof Press, actually better…

 

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There are way more drills we can use, but this explains why we should establish a good ability to resist rotation that leads into building better rotational strength training movements. Which takes us to another misconception about rotation.

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Just as there are chains in the body to help facilitate rotation, there are also chains designed to make sure we don’t create unwanted movement. 

Turning Vs. Rotation

Saying there is a difference in turning vs. rotation sounds very confusing right? They are actually profoundly different and what most people do is they just or just turn their bodies. For example, if you are in a lunge position and you turn your feet to face the other direction (or jump and do it) that is turning, that isn’t rotation. I break down the differences and why you need to understand the goal of rotational strength training. Knowing how the movement is created is so important in getting better results.

 

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I won’t lie, it takes time to get the pattern of rotation down for a lot of people. It is a more complex pattern and why having a good foundation of the other movements will help, but we also have to teach HOW to perform rotation specifically as I break down in the video above. Performing drills with a more of an upright torso while we learn how to use proper footwork and not twist through our low backs (remember it is through our hips) is so important to nail down because if we don’t have those abilities we can layer to higher level rotational strength training where we use more of a hip hinge too in order to increase power in the movement. Even then we want to do so with great purpose and thoughtfulness to progression. The series below shows most to least complex to help you see how we do so!

 

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What DVRT UK master, Greg Perlaki helps us show is there are many layers in teaching rotational strength training and we can use different tools to teach specific concepts about rotation as well as building greater success. Of course, everyone wants to start with the most complex where the exercise looks cool and dynamic, but to get to drills like our Around the World and Shoveling (the first two drills below) you need to really nail everything we have been discussing so far as well as the rest of the drills in the series. Just like a martial arts dojo, you have to earn moving to higher level training. Of course you don’t have to, but that is where a lack of appreciation and benefiting from such a powerful movement like rotational strength training stems from. Our goal isn’t to get you to buy a bunch of cool tools, it is to use them in a way that has a profound and fun impact to your training!

These methods are part of our NEW DVRT Functional Muscle program as both resisting and producing rotation are great ways to train a lot of muscles at once allowing you to develop a body that moves and is as strong as it looks! You can save 25% on this create new program with code “muscle” HERE or get it for FREE when you invest in any of our Ultimate Sandbags with the same code for 25% off HERE

 

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