Jan 29, 2015A Twist on Rotational Training
By Peter Twist
Peter Twist, MS, BPE, CSCS, President of Twist Conditioning, describes his approach to core development and shares a sample progression.
In sport, you are definitely only as strong as your weakest link, and for most athletes this means their core or speed center–which includes abdominals, lower back and hip musculature. For a solid base of support capable of transferring power through the kinetic chain, athletes need to build strength from the center of the body out to the periphery, as opposed to preferentially working on the muscles you can see in a mirror. However, enhanced skill execution and sport power cannot be optimized with traditional floor-based sit-up exercises.
Traditional core development utilizes floor-based exercises such as crunches, sit ups, leg raises, rope crunches, and back extensions, which predominantly isolate the spinal flexor and extensor muscles. For sport success, the core must be developed with the intent of improved performance. Nothing in sport is done in isolation or lying down. Some isolation exercises can actually increase lower back injury risk by isolating the abdominals or the back from the exercise equation, therefore removing the opportunity to collectively strengthen this region. Building core strength in one plane of movement sets athletes up for injury when sport demands high velocity torso force production, force absorption, and rotation.
Think of shooting a hockey puck, driving a golf ball, or powering through a home run. The skill begins with a weight shift and loading of the legs to sum power from the lower body, transferring the force through the core and expressing it onwards to the shoulder complex, finishing at the finger tips directly to the stick, club, or bat. A release of the back heel allows the athlete to “trigger” the hips and generate explosive whole body rotary power.
To optimize sport skills, effective development of rotary power is the key link from the weightroom to the sport. Preferred exercises are typically closed kinetic chain with positional weight shifts both laterally and horizontally (to pre-load the rear leg). The goal is to transfer weight to the lead leg at high velocity.
When working movement around the spine, use transverse plane exercises that incorporate slow controlled movements under tension to optimize strength and hypertrophy gains. Moreover, slow controlled movements on both the concentric and eccentric phases of the lift decrease the risk of injury.
I like to use weighted fit balls, 6-foot-long covered smart toners, and partner-resistance exercises that allow powerful explosive strength training without having to decelerate at the end of the range of motion, as is necessary with free weights. These accommodate full ranges of motion, whole body skill movements and explosive, high velocity training. Progressions 1. To achieve desired results as well as prevent lower back injury, athletes are cued to ‘set their core’. The easiest way to explain this is to experience the ‘clenching’ or ‘bracing’ of the core when someone unexpectedly fakes a punch to your stomach. This corset effect is a set core that prepares the region to contract and exert force as well as absorb forces. 2. Initially prescribe static hold supine and prone positioned exercises. Lengthen the duration of holds and add loading and/or instability to those positions to gain full core strength. 3. Shift static core stability hold exercises to closed kinetic chain positions. 4. Add slow tempo full ROM rotation through the transverse plane with emphasis on loading the eccentric deceleration phase. Use a 2:4 rep count (two seconds concentric, four seconds eccentric). 5. Increase the intent of power initiation at specific ranges of motion. 6. Increase the loading, movement velocity, and rep counts for a given exercise.
This training progression develops rotary power safely and effectively, creating great body control, sequential high velocity power development, and exceptional body awareness. Athletes that focus on developing whole body strength through the entire kinetic chain create precise and intuitive mind to muscle connections, leading to smart muscles that quickly comply with the mind’s commands. These athletes are not only strong on their feet, they are bigger, faster, stronger, and smarter.
Peter Twist, MSc, BPE, CSCS, TSCC-L3, PTS, is President of Twist Conditioning’s three divisions: franchised Sport Conditioning Centers, product wholesale, and the Twist Smart Muscle™ Coach Education program. To learn more about the Twist training methodologies, education, and equipment available in USA, visit: www.twistconditioning.com.