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Effective Exercise Alternatives for the Core

by Meaghan posted July 28, 2013

I’ve written before (HERE) about how and why I’m not a fan of a commonly used exercise by personal trainers: The lunge with rotation (usually accompanied by a medicine ball or ViPR). Simply put, most people don’t have the correct amounts of mobility and stability in the correct areas to really do it correctly, and wind up rotating from the wrong areas – namely, the knees and the lumbar spine. Watch here:

Did you notice what happened when she added the trunk rotation versus when just the arms moved? Watch again and look at the woman’s knee…

I’ll sometimes use the ViPR with lunge variations, but with the goal of ONLY letting the ARMS move with ViPR (as with her first variation); the trunk does NOT rotate (as in her second variation).

I may use thoracic rotation exercises in a lunge-like position to increase mobility at the T-spine, but they are done UNloaded:

This is because dropping into hip flexion during a lunge locks the pelvis into place and prevents it from rotating. Good in theory, sure, as this would seemingly allow for more of the movement to come from the thoracic spine (normally a good thing). But the fact is that most people have lost their ability to move well from the T-spine. So, when they then also prevent the hips from moving, the poor lumbar spine gets sandwiched in the middle and subjected to a lot of shear force. Add an additional load and/or velocity component, and you’re probably asking for trouble.

Nick Tumminello puts it nicely here when he describes why he’s also taken out half-kneeling rotations:


So instead of rotational lunges and throws in half-kneeling, stick to standing rotational exercises that allow the hips to move:


And half-kneeling exercises that teach you to RESIST rotation at the lumbar spine instead of creating it:

Filed under: core training, exercise instruction, exercise programs, fitness-related injuries, strength training, tips for trainers, workout tips

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One response to “Effective Exercise Alternatives for the Core”

  1. the water bottle example really drives the point home!

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