Monday, March 27, 2017

Some More Thoughts on Rotational Strength

In past posts on this site we have discussed what we percieve to be the difference between rotational training and twisting. Rotation is turning the hips and shoulder as a unit, even while the hips may lead. Twisting is moving the hips and shoulders in opposite directions. Many trainers and trainees assume they are the same and/or that twisting movements are essential to developing rotational force. I do not believe that. In fact, I believe that twisting exercises are only a shortcut to back problems. Recently Sean Waxman, a California based strength coach who we have featured on this site before, posted a presentation that he made to a group of strength coaches and would-be personal trainers at an NSCA Conference. I am posting a few excerpts here. You can view the full presentation by clicking the link at the finish. Sean doesn't waste words. I agree with his views on torso training and his opinion of the general NSCA populace. While this is directed to the sport of baseball, (personally I think any sport where you spend most of your time standing around and where you can get a hit 3 out every ten trys and be considered good breeeds mediocrity) I think it applies a great deal to the throwing events.
My comments are interjected in blue.
Rotational Training and Weighted Bats
• One of the biggest mechanisms of torso injury occurs while flexing the spine during rotation. So If an athlete’s torso is not strong enough to prevent spinal flexion/extension then wouldn’t introducing rotational movements such as med-ball throws be foolish? Specific rotational exercise is an advanced form of training and should not be introduced into a program until the athlete has developed enough isometric strength in their torso to stabilize the spine. A better choice for training rotation would be barbell exercises. While an athlete rises from a squat or especially an overhead squat they will be strongly resisting the tendency to rotate. This act of stabilization creates significant increases in rotational strength. As an athlete matures and gains control over their torso function, specific rotational exercises can be introduced. However, unlike in other rotational sports such as the shot put, hammer, and discus where the implement thrown will range between 16lbs and 4.4 lbs and specific rotational training may be beneficial, (
not twisting)the heaviest object a baseball player will handle will be the bat, which will generally range between 30-40 oz. So aside from actually practicing hitting the baseball, it would seem unnecessary to spend the time in the weightroom on rotational training.
As far as using weighted bats, you are doing more harm than good. Adding weight to the bat changes the swing mechanics as well as the timing of the swing. And Because of the extra weight the muscles contract more slowly, therefore stimulating less type 2 fibers.

The Chinese lifters have been observed doing some rotational plate walks before and after training.

 Sports Specific Movements
I thought it necessary to discuss this idea of sports specific torso training in the weightroom. This does not exist in weight room. It is the job of the S&C coach to improve athletic attributes such as strength, power and speed. It is then the job of the baseball (
or Track)coach to teach the athlete the sports specific movements. Doing a side toss with a med ball or rotational movements on a cable column is not the same as swinging a bat or throwing a ball.(or discus, shot, javelin, or hammer) Throwing and hitting are very specific skills, which require very specific motor patterns, which you will not be able to replicate in the weightroom. In fact these rotational exercises create conflicting motor patterns and may very well negatively affect the athletes skill on the diamond. (or circle)Remember, in an untrained or under trained population nearly any training method will get a positive result for a short period of time. That doesn’t make it proper training.Sean's final statement was:
And you will never again go to a presentation on torso development because you will understand that the very premise is ridiculous.

Good stuff. 
Image result for hammer throw koji
Rotation is not twisting

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