Rotational strength

Different sports require athletes to move in different ways and rotation is one of them.

In some sports like kayak, boxing, tennis, netball and throwing events the rotational component is clear and obvious. However, even if a sport appears to have no rotational element, there will almost certainly be a requirement to RESIST rotation. Running is a good example of this where significant rotational forces act on the body but the athlete must work against them to their maximise horizontal speed.

The strategy we use to rotate or resist rotation is critical. Key factors to consider involve the timing of how different body segments move and where rotation occurs. With regards to timing, a good example is to look at the lumbar spine and hips which almost always need to move as a unit. A disconnect between these two segments will typically result in a reduction in power output. With regards to where rotation happens, typically this needs to happen at the thoracic-spine, hips and ankles. If these segments don’t allow rotation through either joint restriction or poor technique then other segments will have to compensate. Namely the shoulders, lumbar spine, knees or feet. This is typically not desirable for performance and in some instances can be an injury risk.

There are many ways to train rotational / anti-rotational strength. The usual considerations to exercise and load selection apply. Is the athlete training for strength, power, speed or strength endurance? What segment of the body are we targeting? How advanced is the athlete? What movement patterns do we want to integrate our rotational training with; pushing or pulling, squatting or lunging? How will the exercise transfer to the sport?

When it comes to training rotation there are many great tools available to us. Medicine balls being my favourite and I also use a lot of single-arm dumbbell push and pull exercises. All of which can be used to either train rotation or to resist against it. I also regularly use kneeling-chop variations with cables and bands where the athlete must resist rotation as the resistance is pulled across the body.

My advice would be to identify how rotation is important look at your sport. If your training only consists of bi-lateral barbell exercises and has no rotational element you are certainly missing a component of your sport. Rotational training is also super fun since it often requires a greater degree of athleticism than many other conventional lifts. Happy training everyone.

If rotation or resisting rotation is important for your sport and you would like some help putting together a programme please get in contact. You can be assessed remotely and will be given a specific programme alongside world class coaching via video call till we can meet again in person.


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