What does getting strong mean to you? Maybe your first thought is Arnold Schwarzenegger posing on stage, or maybe it’s a strongman throwing a keg 20 feet into the air. Whatever your thought is, I have a secret that’s going to help you get functionally strong. A functionally strong body doesn’t mean big muscles for show. It means you’re body is built to endure. There’s a difference between someone who looks strong because they have big muscles and someone who is functionally strong because they have muscle groups that are very efficient at working together. When we connect these muscle groups together with our strength training that’s when we are able to get functionally strong.
The secret here is rotation. One of the least trained aspects of strength training is one of the functionally best movement patterns. Most rotation exercises connect the legs and arms together through the obliques and core. When I say core I don’t mean 6 pack of abs. I’m referring to the corset of muscle that surrounds the lower back and connects the rib cage to the pelvis. This corset of muscle is built to connect lower and upper body. Most athletic movements we do are through rotation or anti-rotation. Anti-rotation is the ability of the core to resist a rotational exercise. Training one of these usually trains the other.
If you can picture someone throwing a pitch, a round house kick, hitting a tennis ball, or taking someone down with a double leg; all of these have the aspect of connecting legs to arms through rotation of the trunk. Now training these outside of a sport is possible. Some examples of this are: using a slam ball and throwing it into a wall while twisting which will develop rotational power. You can swing a mace while lunging forward to create anti-rotational isometric strength by slowing the mace down. You could also hold a gymnastic ring in-front of your sternum and twist by bringing your hands from one side of the body to the other to create rotational strength. Some of these exercises have a far reaching benefit into athletic performance to help give you an edge on the competition. Give them a try and let us know how they go!