Build a Stronger Core Using Anti-Rotation Exercises

This is Your Quick Training Tip, a chance to learn how to work smarter in just a few moments so you can get right to your workout.

There’s no greater hallmark of fitness than a six-pack, which is why there’s typically no shortage of crunches and leg raises in most guys’ training plans to make their abs pop. And in the pursuit of a strong core overall, you likely also pad your workouts with exercises such as the Russian twist and wood chop. But if you only do core exercises that focus on movement, you’re neglecting this muscle group’s other key function (and an important way to train it): resisting movement.

The primary job of your core—that armada of muscles running from your glutes to your traps and wrapping 360 degrees around your middle—is to stabilize and support your spine. Sure, these muscles help flex, extend, and rotate your torso, but if they had résumés, the first entry under “professional experience” would be “resisting unwanted or excessive movement of the spinal column.”

That’s why it’s critical to include “anti-movement” exercises in your core training. If you already do the plank—an anti-flexion movement—you’re ahead of the game. Bonus points if you also do moves such as the side plank (anti-lateral flexion) and ab-rollout (anti-extension). But if you really want to level-up your core strength, you need to add anti-rotation moves to your exercise arsenal as well.

Your move: Some anti-rotation exercises—such as the sandbag lateral drag, plank shoulder tap, Pallof press, and band-resisted anti-rotational press—target your core directly. But there are others that hammer your core while masquerading as exercises for other muscles. The single-leg Romanian deadlift is primarily a hamstring exercise that incorporates a powerful anti-rotation element, for example. Ditto for the renegade row.

All movements that force you to resist twisting your body count, and incorporating them into your training plan will not only help you sculpt a six pack, but also help you build a more rock-solid core.

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