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Is Twisting the Best Way to Develop Rotational Force?

February 13, 2018



Stabilizing heavy weights over head requires the "rotational" muscles to be strong.


Awhile ago I read an article in the BFS (Bigger, Faster, Stronger) magazine that I really agreed with.
It was titled, “Secrets to Developing Rotational Strength”. While I don’t believe there are any “secret” training methods and I generally disregard articles claiming such, the opening paragraph hit home with me. The author, Kim Goss stated, “Over the past decade there has been a trend in the strength coaching profession to distract athletes from getting stronger.”
I couldn’t agree more. Commercial fads and trends seem to have pushed out common sense in many programs.
He went on to state,”I’m not talking about training that is augmented with complicated periodization programs that require a slide rule or at least a basic knowledge of Excel 2007 but about training regimes that require athletes to spend a lot of time on worthless exercises. Our gyms are full of kettle bells, elastic tubing, medicine balls with ropes – tools that are supposedly the best way to develop the athletic quality known as rotational strength.”
His next statement really made me feel we were on the same philosophical page,
“The problem is that many coaches mistakenly believe that basic multijoint movements such as squats and power cleans will not improve rotational strength. After all, most exercises occur in the vertical and horizontal planes, but in sports, as Chubby Checker would say, “There’s a whole lot of twisting goin’ on!” As such, some coaches think that traditional weight training workouts are simply not good enough and that special functional exercises that work those important “core” muscles must be included in every serious athlete’s workout.
Nice try.
Much of what is being preached about core training, especially about the topic of developing rotational strength, is nonsense. Most of these exercises don’t do what their proponents claim they can do, and don’t even make sense from an anatomical standpoint. The result is that athletes often spend a lot of time on inferior exercises and even on exercises that place the spine at a high risk of injury.”
Many S&C coaches seem to think that twisting exercises are essential for developing the so called rotational strength that is exerted when throwing. This is not only a waste of time, but a great way to herniate a disc. Discs are not designed to rotate individually. The cumulative micro trauma that results from repetitive twisting exercises breaks down the disc wall. The greater the twisting force, the faster the breakdown.
An analysis of the torque produced in the trunk when throwing shows that it is not the spine that is twisting, but the rotational movement occurs as the hips are driven forward. Yes, there is a separation between the hips and shoulders, but it is a limited range of motion and does not come close to the end point. Exercises where the hips are held stationary and the trunk is twisted to the full end point of it’s range is a recipe for injury. Such exercises as seated twists with weight or high speed walking twists while swinging a weight are not necessary and are dangerous. Rotational strength depends first and foremost on trunk strength and stability. The standard squats, pulls, and presses are effective in developing this. Controlled twisting within the range of motion can be of some benefit, but probably is about as effective as doing toe raises to increase vertical jump. The power comes from the hip extension. The toe raise is more of a follow through and adds little to the jump.
In the same vein, the trunk torque is the natural result of a throw, not the major power generator. Work your core, but do it under control and within it’s natural range of motion. Throw long, and throw for a long time. Don’t ruin your back in the weight room.
The full BFS article can be read at:



Power is not generated by "twisting" the waist, but by driving the hips forward.

Twisting with a bar or broomstick has no value in contributing to the throw and causes disc deterioration. Don't fall into the "twisting" with resistance trap unless you have great insurance and enjoy spinal surgery.


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