Transverse and Rotational Core Exercises

These drills consist of twists and bends to target the internal and external obliques. The obliques are part of the core and they work to stabilize your body any time that you are bending or twisting. These muscles run down the side of your torso and can be considered pillars that stabilize your torso. Along with training your obliques, you are also working your transverse abdominal muscles, when you perform this exercise.

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Your transverse abdominal muscles are like an internal weight belt that stabilizes and protects your spine, ribs, and pelvis during movement. The aim of these drills is to strengthen the internal core muscles, NOT to get a six-pack. These drills can help to improve balance and posture. They can also improve strength and power when playing sports such as golf, tennis, racket ball, baseball, and other sports that require upper body rotation. Other daily activities that involve bending and twisting will also become easier. Give these exercises a try to help improve your core strength and stability:

  • Standing barbell torso twists: Standing with your feet shoulder width apart, with a barbell in a back rack position, tighten down your midline and breath through your diaphragm. Rotate side-to-side with the torso only, keeping the feet planted and the hips as squared as possible.
  • Hinged barbell torso twists: Standing, hinged at the hips with a slight break in the knees, and a barbell in a back rack position, rotate side-to-side. Remember to keep your midline tight and breathe through your diaphragm. This exercise is similar to the first, but you are changing the angle, challenging your ability to stabilize your core during the movement.
  • Seated barbell torso twists: These twists can be seated on a bench or box, with a barbell racked on your back. Focus on keeping an upright torso, with a tight midline as you rotate side to side. Keep the feet planted on the ground and rotate the torso only.
  • Russian twists on stability ball: During this exercise, your upper back will be flat on a stability ball, and your legs will be bent at the knees at a 90-degree angle with your feet flat on the floor. You will twist side-to-side, maintaining contact with the outside of the shoulder as you rotate all the way to your side. Keep your arms extended straight out in front of your body with your hands together 
  • Seated torso twists: For this exercise, you will be seated on the floor with your legs straight out. You will have a slight bend in the knees, with your heels on the ground. You can do them un-weighted or use an external load (a dumbbell, kettle bell, med ball, etc.) to in crease the difficulty. When doing them seated on the floor, you can anchor your feet to the floor or elevate your feet to challenge your balance and core stability
  • Banded twists: Perform this exercise, using a resistance band anchored to an upright post. Stand with your feet shoulder with apart and a slight bend in your knees. Maintain an upright torso, with your core tight and shoulders back. Keep your arms extended straight out from your body and rotate side-to-side.
  • Supine side bends: Lay on your back on the floor, with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Your arms should be extended straight down at your sides. Bend at the waist to the side and reach your hand down towards your feet. Your shoulders should be slightly elevated off of the floor. You will bend side-to-side at the waist.
  • Seated barbell side bends: Seated on a bench or a box, with a barbell in a back rack position, bend side-to-side at the waist. Keep the shoulders as square as possible and the midline tight.
  • Standing barbell side bends: This is similar to the seated side bends but now you are standing with your feet underneath the hips. Keep the legs straight and the midline locked down. 
  • Standing KB side bends: Standing with your feet underneath your hips, holding a kettle bell in each hand down at your side, bend at the waist side to side, lowering the kettle bell down your side towards your foot. 
  • Elevated side bends (GHD): You can perform this exercise on a GHD or lying on your side elevated on a bench. Your upper body should be hanging off of the bench or GHD. You arm closest to the ground will hang straight down while your opposite hand rests behind your head. Bend at the waist leaning towards the floor and then lift yourself up, bending at the waist in the opposite direction, lifting as high as possible. 

Having a strong core is important to being powerful and explosive. It also helps to prevent injury because your core helps to stabilize your core, acting as an internal weight belt. Training obliques is an often-neglected part of core training. The obliques are the pillars of your torso and assist with bending and twisting, keeping your core stabilized during these movements. These exercises can be useful not only for sports training but for life’s everyday activities. Give these exercises a try and strengthen you core!

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