Abdominal Training

Abdominal Training: Rotation Exercises

Ian King defines the abdominal lines of movement in 4 categories:

1. Trunk Flexion
2. Hip Flexion
3. Rotation
4. Lateral Flexion (side)

And then he also adds two categories that involve multiple actions:

1a. Abdominal and Glute co-contraction
1b. Integrated (Plank - YES this is an ADVANCED exercise)

Abdominals need to be balanced within a program just like the bigger muscles.   The fitness industry loves meaningless "buzz" words like "core". Why do I say it is meaningless?  Simple, because it is so vague that you wouldn't know what you are actually targeting by performing a certain exercise.  The Abdominals consist of a few muscles that each perform different actions.  Lumping them all together demonstrates a lack of understanding for muscle function and then how to train that function. 

Trendy Exercises: Cable Rotation at shoulder height, Cable Rotation from a low position, Cable Rotation from above shoulder height, rotation from a half kneeling position.  (I am going to suggest you rethink including these in your program if your goal is to create rotation)

Reasons to STOP doing these:

1.  the line of pull is through the shoulders and not the abdominals.  When you do a cable rotation you are pulling the cable through with your upper body.  There is very little abdominal contribution. 

2.  It's actually a HIP rotation.  Clients are often instructed to keep their hands in front of the body and turn their hips.  The result is more emphasis on hip rotation and again not much abdominal contribution. 

This comes from the belief that the rotational muscles like the obliques are meant to prevent rotation.  I suggest this is a faulty way of thinking.  If you perform nothing but anti-rotation exercises with your arms in front of your body you will develop shoulder and neck challenges.

Kneeling rotation: AGAIN, you can stop this nonsense

1.  Your arms are the moving parts on this one NOT your torso. How can you train your rotation muscles of your torso if they are not moving?  The answer?  you are training your shoulders. 

2.  Just like with lunges, people are SO RARELY aligned when they do this!  Their legs are out to the side and they are contorted through the spine.  EVEN IF this exercise had some transfer value, that value would be negated by the lack of postural control.


If you want to train your ABS, do ab exercises.  The Russian Twist is a classic rotation exercise.  You can also try a rotation crunch (same as a typical crunch but done towards one knee). 

Technique is critical in any exercise selection and execution.  If you are bending all over in your spine or your knees don't line up with your feet (to name just a few examples) you are probably causing damage rather than a benefit. 

Choose your approach.

It's popular for trainers to employ training methods of advanced athletes from different sports.  Just because a training method is appropriate for one person doesn't mean that it's optimal for YOU.  The average person doesn't need Olympic Lifting to improve health and happiness.  Especially not the way it's taught in the gym.  Strength training is just a small portion of training and it has been given too much emphasis in a healthy training program.  To get where you want to be probably doesn't involve Olympic Lifting, or kettlebells, or sleds, tires, ropes or any other SHIT the fitness industry tries to sell you.  Think for yourself and do what's optimal rather than what's trendy.  Thank you.

Tom LegathComment