The complexity of the human body seems to be endless, especially when it comes to movement. The body was designed to perform a multitude of the task that requires each of its individual parts to work synergistically together. If one part of the body is off, it can make it harder for another to do its job.
This is also true when it comes to exercise. If you run too much you may run the risk of losing strength or beating up your joints. If you lift weights too much and don’t focus on mobility or cardio, you may not be able to lift at your fullest potential. So, the optimal thing to do is to include a variety of fitness tasks into your regimen.
The same goes for core training. Exercises such as planks, sit-ups, rollouts, press outs, and more, all work on strengthening muscles in the core such as the rectus abdominus, external obliques, internal obliques, erector spinae, quadrates lumborum, psoas major, and so on. However, it does not take care of all the dynamics of the core. While you can increase rotational power and strength by doing these types of exercises, it won’t do it all.
There are basically 2 different things the core muscles do, in general:
Anti-rotation: The ability to stabilize the lumbar spines and prevent it from rotating. The excessive rotation at the lumbar spine can potentially cause lumbar issues.
Rotation: The ability to generate and transfer energy from the core to the overall torso and limbs in the transverse plane.
The body also moves in 3 different planes of motion:
- Sagittal – This plane divides the body into right and left sides. Movements in the sagittal plane are flexion and extension. You can move forward and backward or up and down. For core training, think rollouts and sit-ups.
- Frontal – This plane divides the body into front and backsides. Movements in the frontal plane are abduction and adduction. You can move side to side. For core training, think side planks.
- Transverse – This plane divides the body into top and bottom halves. Movements in the transverse plane are rotational, both internal and external rotation. This is where rotational core training comes in.
While anti-rotation exercises do help with this plane of motion as it is resisting rotation in the transverse plane, it does not take into account the proprioceptive component of rotation. This is where the band or pulley rotation comes into the benefit.
- Adjust the pulley handle or band to about chest height.
- Step out and away from the attachment site.
- Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart, arms straight and very stiff in front of you about shoulder height.
- It is very important that you brace the whole entire body during the exercise so that you move as one unit.
- In one movement, twist by moving your entire body as one unit by using your hips and turning your outside foot (see picture for proper foot movement). If you are rotating to your left, your right foot should turn in, and vice versa.
- Make sure that you DO NOT rotate by using your arms. Keep them static. You must also be sure to not rotate at your waistline. As described above, you do NOT want to rotate much at your lumbar spine. You are rotating at your hips, which in turn rotate your torso.
- After you rotate at explosive speed, pause for 1-2 seconds, then return to the start position slowly and repeat the steps on the other side.
- 2-3 sets of 8 reps on each side is a good place to start.
Core training is important for performance in sports, life, and a healthy lower back. The core muscular is dynamic and there is not anyone side fits all exercise. In order for our bodies to move in its 3-dimensional space, we must train accordingly. Cable/pulley rotations will help keep your strength in the transverse plane while rounding our core strength and ability to produce rotational power.