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Training with a Twist

by Joe Wauters on Friday 25 November 2016

What is rotational movement? What's in it for you? Why should you care?   

There are 3 main planes of movement available to your body; Sagittal, Transverse and Frontal.  

Everyone knows the Sagittal plane stuff; squats, deadlifts, push ups, pull ups - they’re performed facing straight on, with no twisting or turning or leaning side to side. But today we’re focussing on rotational movements in the Transverse plane. Training like this is becoming a really important part of modern health and fitness.
So why include twisting, turning and rotating in your fitness training?  

If you think about it, this is how we move most of the time in everyday life.  If you sit at a desk a lot, you still need to rotate your body to reach for things and interact with the world around you.  If you want to play sport, play with your kids, play with your pet or just enjoy an active lifestyle, then being able to twist and turn is also really important.  And just like squats, deadlifts and push ups, these are strengths that can be improved with practice.

The following two rotational exercises can be done with no equipment at all - perfect for outdoor training, exercising at home or while travelling.

1.  Low to High Reach  

Imagine you’re standing in a large box; reach to the bottom corner, twist through the middle then reach to the top corner.  

This exercise might look easy, but do four rounds of twenty on each side, and you’ll feel it. Adjusting your feet as your body twists is really important for all rotational exercises.  Add ten push ups and a short sprint to each round for a pretty well-rounded work out.

2.  Baby Roll

Lie on your back in a ‘dead bug’ position - your arms and legs tucked in. Now without touching the ground with anything other than your torso, roll onto your front. Once you’re there roll back onto your back then try it on the other side.  The idea is to be able to do this with complete control and without momentum – meaning you could stop and freeze in position at any point. 

As a baby, this is actually one of the first movements you ever learned to do, and there’s research to show that rediscovering this movement as an adult is beneficial to our physical structure.  Because of the controlled nature of this exercise try it at the beginning or at the end of your workout.

The next two exercises require a light external load. I use a 10kg weight plate, but you could use a medicine ball or a ViPR. 

3.  Plate swing

Swing the plate from one shoulder to the other, a bit like a golf swing.  Remember to keep moving your feet with each swing.

4.  Plate 360

This is similar to the Plate Swing except you take the plate up behind your head and all the way around.  Try 10 to the left and 10 to the right.

You can try going heavier with these movements but you’ll find that after a certain point you just won’t be able to maintain proper form and still swing and twist.  If you want to lift heavy weights then add them into a circuit that includes these rotational movements - for example, 10 x Plate 360s on each side, plus 10 heavy thrusters (front squat to shoulder press) for 5 rounds - and you’ll be pretty smashed.

These final two exercises are performed on a machine called the Kinesis, which you can find at any Virgin Active Health Club. These machines are particularly useful for rotational training.

5.  Kinesis wood-chop down

Bring the top Kinesis handle diagonally down across your body to reach the floor on the opposite side. Again, your foot movement is really important, and these need to be completed on both the left and right side for a balanced workout.   

6.  Kinesis wood-chop up 

Repeat from the bottom to top. The Kinesis are designed to be used intuitively so have a play and see what works for you. Add some sprints or body weight exercises for a complete workout.

Try adding these movements to your own workouts, or come to Virgin Active's Grid classes. They're designed based on real life movement patterns, which will contribute to movement in your daily life (and also make you super fit, healthy and fantastic looking)!  Alternatively, find a Virgin Active Personal Trainer that specialises in functional movement, there’s plenty of us and we love sharing this stuff with you. Enjoy! 

Joe Wauters is a Personal Trainer at Virgin Active Moore Park. Check him out on Instagram @joe_wauters

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