It has become conventional wisdom that training the core is an essential part of every strength training program. From the world’s best athletes to the average Joe at your local gym, everyone is obsessed with training the CORE! But what is considered the core and how can it be trained optimally?
The core consists of more than just the 6 muscles that you would consider your abs (the six-pack). The whole core is actually made up of over 20 muscles including obliques, which are the muscles on the sides of your abdomen and deeper muscles that wrap around your spine and midsection. The core can include or be considered anything besides your arms and legs. The main purpose of the core muscles is to stabilize, not to move. Core strength comes from the ability to stabilize both the upper and lower parts of the body. So given all of that, why do so many people train the core in only one plane of motion? They shouldn’t! Training the core should be done in multiple ways since the core is used in almost every movement we do as humans. Anti-rotation is a type of core training that has recently become more popularized in sports performance. It is especially good for athletes who generate a lot of power through their core such as baseball players, tennis players or any sport that requires a lot of rotational power. It can also be used for anyone who is looking for different ways to effectively strengthen and stabilize their core.
So what is anti-rotation and how can it be used to improve my overall performance?
An anti-rotation exercise is generally an exercise where the core is contracted and its job is to hold the rest of the body still in a singular plane, direction or motion. It is essentially a tug of war but instead of you pulling back on the resistance, you are holding still, trying to keep the resistance from moving or pulling you. Unlike crunches and sit-ups or other general core exercises, anti-rotation movements maintain the body in a still position as opposed to moving through a range of motion. The ability to resist or prevent motion (or rotation) may be just as important as it is to create motion (or rotation). It is important to understand that athletes should be able to resist rotation before they are able to produce rotation. Too many times you see athletes injured because they are able to produce more force than their body can resist. That’s why when training to throw a punch or swing a baseball bat, it is essential to train the core in multiple planes of motion. Anti-rotation movements such as the paloff hold or press and difference plank variations are examples of different anti-rotation movements that can be used or added to any core training routine. Improving the core improves stability, balance and prevents injury. Try adding a few anti rotations movements to your workout to improve overall core strength and prevent injuries. The key to optimal performance is to stay healthy with a solid core.