Rotational Moves for Group X

by Eve Fleck, MS on Jan 21, 2015

Rotational movement is part of everyday life, but in order to have high levels of rotational strength, you need good trunk stability. No single muscle causes rotation or stabilization; the movements depend on a combination of several muscles working together in the transverse plane. These core muscles are always working, either to cause rotation or to resist it (to stabilize). This condensed specialty class introduces students to rotation and antirotation exercises. It's up to you to educate participants about why a strong, stable core and rotational strength enhance functional and recreational movement.

Class Details

Goal/emphasis: transverse plane conditioning

Time: approximately 30 minutes

Equipment needed: medicine balls (4–8 pounds), medium/heavy tubing with handles, medium-sized dumbbells (5–12 pounds)

Music: high-energy music as background only (beats per minute at instructor's discretion)

Note: Keep safety in mind when working in the transverse plane, and always cue students to move knees and ankles along with the hips.

Warm-Up (~5 minutes)

  • Hold low prone plank position for 30–60 seconds.
  • Engage through transversus abdominis and shoulder girdle to maintain spinal stability.
  • Lift right (R) foot slightly off floor while keeping hips and shoulders level.
  • Hold for up to 15 seconds.
  • Repeat with left (L) foot.
Medicine Ball Rotations
  • Using light medicine ball (4–8 pounds), stand with feet shoulder-width apart, knees bent, spine neutral.
  • Hold ball directly in front of chest (elbows bent), and isometrically contract abdominals.
  • Gently rotate from waist, keeping hips steady (small range of motion).
  • Focus on acceleration and deceleration.
  • Stabilize pelvis while moving thoracic spine and do a few repetitions.
  • Extend arms directly in front, increasing lever length and intensity.
  • Continue movement, but increase ROM by allowing hips to turn and rear heel to release from ground. Focus on acceleration and deceleration.
Figure 8
  • Hold medicine ball and stand with feet hip-distance apart, knees bent.
  • Contract abdominals, stabilize hips and move ball in figure-eight pattern in front of body.
  • Perform 10 reps in each direction.

Main Workout Section (20 minutes)

Renegade Row

The renegade row is a classic antirotation exercise, but it is often mistaken for a rowing exercise. Use moderate, not heavy, weight. The goal is to challenge spinal stability during unilateral movement.

  • Assume high prone plank position, holding light- to moderate-weight dumbbells on floor, in hands.
  • Engage core to maintain position; perform narrow row, R hand.
  • Return weight to floor and repeat, L hand.
  • Do not allow hips to shift as you lift weight.
  • Complete 10 rows, each side; 3–5 rounds.
Paloff Press
  • Anchor tubing to stable object; use slipknot just below shoulder height.
  • Stand with L side facing anchor point.
  • Hold handle with both hands extended in front of chest.
  • Move laterally away from anchor point until core engages to prevent rotation.
  • Bring hands in toward chest, and press them out in front again. The challenge is to stabilize spine while pressing.
  • Progression: Rotate away from anchor after each arm extension. Do small thoracic spinal rotation by maintaining hip position, or use larger ROM by allowing hips to turn. Release L heel from ground to avoid twisting knee or ankle.
  • Perform 15 reps, each side; 3–5 rounds.
Unilateral Wide Row
  • Anchor tubing at approximately knee height.
  • Hold handle in R hand and stand facing anchor point, feet hip-distance apart, knees bent.
  • Engage abdominals and perform wide row with R arm.
  • Do not allow torso to rotate. You should feel muscles on L side of back engaging to stabilize.
  • Progression: Add resisted rotation by turning toes, knees, hips and shoulders slightly R of anchor, staggering L foot forward. Perform same wide row, but allow hips to rotate. Release rear foot to prevent twisting knee and ankle joints. Move L arm in counter-rotation toward anchor.
  • Complete 15 reps, each side; 3–5 rounds.
Unilateral Press
  • Anchor tubing at approximately knee height.

For more exercises, please see "Sample Class: Twisted!" in the online IDEA Library or in the November–December 2014 print issue of IDEA Fitness Journal. If you cannot access the full article and would like to, please contact the IDEA Inspired Service Team at (800) 999-4332, ext. 7.

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About the Author

Eve Fleck, MS

Eve Fleck, MS IDEA Author/Presenter

Eve Fleck, MS, holds a master's degree in exercise physiology and lectures at California State University, Northridge. She is the owner of Gym Without Walls, an outdoor fitness program in Los Angeles, California. Eve uses creative class structures to train multiple fitness levels in the same session and encourages parents to let their kids in on the fun! Eve also specializes in the practical application of scientific concepts through lectures, workshops, articles, and "real world" classes. Eve has been active in the fitness industry as a researcher, author, presenter, university lecturer, instructor, and Reebok Master trainer for almost 20 years. She is co-author of "Growth and Development Across the Lifespan." Certifications: ACE and NASM