Core training is not just doing countless situps and leg lifts to tighten your abs and look good at the beach. It is about moving with grace, control and coordination that allows you to perform better in sports and activities and to reduce your risk of injury, writes Vern Gambetta in his book, "Athletic Development." Trunk rotation is one way to improve core strength. Before you start twisting, work on building a strong and stable core with the chop and lift exercises.
Kneeling Cable Chop
Even though the kneeling chop looks like an arm exercise, your core is constantly working since it maintains posture and balance as you move your arms from a high position to a low position across your body. Use a cable column machine with a handle to adjust the height. Set the handle's height to the highest level and grab the handle with both hands. Kneel on your left knee with your right side of your body facing the handle. Exhale and pull the handle down and across your body to your left hip without turning your torso. Hold this position for two seconds and reverse the movement to return the handle to the starting position. Perform three sets of eight to 10 reps per side. To chop in the opposite direction, simply turn your body around and kneel on the knee so that the left side of your body is facing the handle.
Kneeling Cable Lift
The cable lift is a mirror image of the chop, where you move your arms from a low position to a high position across your body. This might feel more challenging than the chop because you have to fight gravity to move. Use a light weight if necessary. Set the handle's height to the lowest level and grab the handle with both hands. Kneel on your right knee with the right side of your body facing the handle. Exhale and pull the handle up and across your body toward the left side of your head. Hold this position for two seconds and reverse the movement to return the handle to its starting position. Do not turn your torso as you move. Perform three sets of eight to 10 reps per side.
Standing Medicine Ball Rotation
With your core activated you can explore trunk rotation movements. The basic medicine ball rotation turns your trunk horizontally while maintaining a tall posture. Hold a 6-pound medicine ball in front of you with your arms extended and stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Turn your trunk to your left and pivot your right leg and foot at the same time. Then turn your trunk to your right and pivot your right leg and foot at the same time. Get a rhythm going as you turn left and right. Perform two to three sets of 20 reps.
Lunge and Twist
You can also combine your lower body and upper body to work together to strengthen your core. Hold a broomstick over your shoulders and stand with your feet together. Step forward with your left foot and lunge straight down. Turn your torso to your left as you lunge while keeping your eyes focused ahead. Push your body back to the standing position. Perform two to three sets of eight to 10 reps per leg.
- Athletic Development; Vern Gambetta
- Functional Movement Systems: Introduction to the Chop and Lift
- Athletic Body in Balance; Gray Cook
Nick Ng has been writing fitness articles since 2003, focusing on injury prevention and exercise strategies. He has covered health for "MiaBella" magazine. Ng received his Bachelor of Arts in communications from San Diego State University in 2001 and has been a certified fitness coach with the National Academy of Sports Medicine since 2002.