Summer may be coming to an end, but there’s still time for ab work in the gym–the right kind! Read below to find out more.
THE MOVE: Half-kneeling Anti-rotation Pull
MOVEMENT PATTERN AND MUSCLES WORKED: Corrective/core; abs, obliques.
WHY DO IT: Remember the Med Ball Shoulder Flexion in Dead Bug from a while back? Today’s move falls into the same category: not a strength exercise, but no less important. And while the former teaches you how to resist extension, the half-kneeling anti-rotation pull teaches you how to resist rotation.
Often times, when someone rotates in sports or daily movement, they do so through the wrong place–the lumbar spine. This suboptimal rotation causes low back pain because of shear stress on the lumbar spine. Instead, rotation should occur in the beefier thoracic spine (the upper back), and as renowned physical therapist Shirley Sahrmann explains here, “the primary role of the abdominal muscles is to provide isometric support and limit the degree of rotation of the trunk.” Hence the anti-rotation component of today’s move. In order to rotate correctly, we must learn how to resist rotation first.
As such, today’s move will build core stability in rotation, and help trainees own the half-kneeling position. A logical progression on this exercise would be doing it in a tall-kneeling stance, which is way more difficult!
HOW TO DO IT: Set up beside a cable column in a half-kneeling position with the inside knee down and a rope attachment at chest height. Grab the rope to remove the slack in the cable, and brace your core. Pull the rope across your body while keeping your core engaged; this will help you resist trunk rotation towards the cable column. Slowly let the rope return to the starting position in front of you and repeat.
While doing this, I’d recommend against letting the rope return all the way to the cable arm after every rep in order to maintain a constant rotational torque that you’ll have to resist in your torso throughout the set. You should feel this mostly in your inside oblique, although activation elsewhere in the torso isn’t uncommon. Finally, once you have core engagement in check, you can start thinking about rotating slightly through the thoracic spine when you perform this exercise. This is perfectly okay, and you might be able to see Dan doing so above.
For the half-kneeling anti-rotation pull, I’d recommend 3 sets of 10 reps, at the beginning or end of your workout. If you’re looking to build rotational strength, be sure to learn how to resist rotation first with this exercise, and let us know what you think on Twitter or Instagram @halevylife !
by Jeremy Lau
Jeremy Lau is a Senior Staff Coach at Halevy Life.
Jeremy graduated cum laude from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a BSc. in Biomedical Engineering and is currently pursuing his M.Ed. in Exercise Physiology at Columbia University. In addition to his academic accolades, Jeremy is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS).
Prior to joining the team at Halevy Life, Jeremy completed a coaching internship at Cressey Sports Performance, where he coached both amateur and professional athletes, among whom were many professional MLB baseball players.
As an athlete, Jeremy has played baseball competitively for most of his life.’