‘Anti-motion’ core training is about improving your ability to resist external forces (people, weights, cables, bears) that are causing unwanted flexion, extension and/or rotation at your spine. In other words, ‘anti-motion’ exercises require you to contract the muscles of your trunk (hard) to prevent you being pulled and twisted in to bad positions. Performing different types of ‘anti-motion’ exercises strengthens the core musculature in a ‘functional’ manner and helps keep you strong and stable in life, sport and the gym.
Quick Note on the Core’s Functions
The muscles of your core wrap around your spine (like a cylinder) and work together to:
- Protect the spine (by helping to maintain its neutrality when confronted with unwanted motions).
- Transfer force from the legs to the arms/hands/barbell/whatever.
The second function is improved by using compound exercises that require you to transfer force from the lower body to the upper body e.g. a push press, but today we’ll focus on the first function, which can be improved by using anti-extension, anti-flexion and anti-rotation exercises…
Anti-extension core exercises are those in which you are required to resist extension at the spine. If your core didn’t resist extension, you would end up walking around with an excessively arched lower back to the point where your butt would stick out. This would lead to aches and pains. Anti-extension core exercises are used in many different types of programs, including those designed to treat lordosis and other postural problems.
Planks are an example of an anti-extension core exercise and they can be scaled to match abilities. There are many different plank variations. Start with a regular plank and make it harder by moving your hands further forward (this increases the lever length and thus increases the extension forces that you’ll need to resist).
Ab wheel and Swiss ball rollouts are examples of advanced anti-extension exercises. Get comfortable with regular planks on a stable surface before attempting these.
The ability to rotate your torso (and control this rotation) is crucial in everyday life and sport. Throwing, kicking and simply turning to one side all involve rotation of the torso. So, when I talk of anti-rotation I’m not talking about resisting the rotation caused when your partner spins you in dance class, I’m talking about resisting the rotation caused when someone rugby tackles you out of nowhere.
Anti-rotation exercises include any exercise in which something is going to cause a tendency to rotate. For example, during a Pallof press you are resisting the cable/band’s attempts to rotate your body towards the band. The further out you press the cable, the greater the rotational forces you have to resist.
Lateral flexion essentially means side bending. So, anti-lateral flexion exercises are those that train your ability to resist unwanted side bendy motions. Basically, anti-lateral flexion exercises are those that keep you standing tall when something (or someone) is pulling you to the side.
How do the anti-lateral flexion exercises work?
By holding a heavy weight on one side of your body, but not the other, or positioning yourself in a certain way, your body is going to be inclined to bend to one side because there is a greater force pulling you to that side (something to do with gravity). By bracing your mid-section (abs, trunk), you resist these forces and thus maintain strong and upright posture.
When is this useful?
Without anti-lateral flexion capabilities you will be unable to hold a suitcase or shopping bag without bending sideways. It’s also useful in sports when you are being pushed and pulled to the side.
My favourite anti-lateral flexion exercises are loaded carries, and in particular the suitcase carry. As well as being an excellent core exercise, the suitcase carry is really applicable to everyday life, burns loads of calories and increases grip strength. Another good anti-lateral flexion exercise is the side plank.
Some ‘anti-motion’ exercises will primarily focus on one ‘anti’ component but many will also tie in another. For example, renegade rows are both an anti-rotation and an anti-extension exercise; two for the price of one, good deal.
‘Anti-motion’ core training is an excellent way of improving your core strength. and should be used instead of high rep flexion based abs exercises. Include ‘anti-motion’ core training in your program for a stronger and healthier core.
At Your Service…
Is your training plagued with unwanted motion? Do you want to resist extension, flexion and even rotation too? Get in touch for personal training in Edinburgh and take your core training to the next level.
P.S. Try the hollow body exercise for a challenging core exercise.