Metabolic Stability Series

Metabolic Stability Series - Septemeber 2017

Rotational Training

Josh Henkin, CSCS (

There is so much talk about foundational movement patterns it always amazes me that we miss one of the most important patterns….rotation! Sure, there is talk here and there of anti and rotational training, but overall it falls under a much less valued listing.

Why does rotational based training fall to the waste side so easily? Maybe because we don’t see the obvious value as we do with hinging and squatting. It might be the fact that rotational training is actually tough to coach and we haven't done a great job in both defining its meaning for coaches and setting forth great cues and progressions for teaching rotation.

So, why such a focus on rotational training. The truth is that about everything we do has some element of rotation. From anything powerful we do to every day activities like walking. If I were to ask you to perform most powerful actions like throwing a pall, swinging a bat, kicking, punching, even running, there are strong rotational actions that occur.

Even in non-athletes, walking, life activities such as picking things up and putting them on a shelf, shoveling snow, and more, they should be seen with a rotational influence. When people often hurt their backs picking something up from the ground it isn’t a by product of just flexion, but often putting the back in flexion and rotation.

The challenge comes in the fact that rotational training requires a more complex movement pattern due to the foot action that is required to move through the hips and NOT the lumbar spine. That is why progression is key and why this month's Metabolic Stability is going to address some of these keys in proper progression for optimal rotational training.

Kettlebell Renegade Row

The kettlebell Renegade Row is a very popular exercise but people constantly lose the meaning and purpose of the exercise. First and foremost it is an anti-rotational exercise. Learning to resist rotation properly first allows us to build the foundational strength that will better serve our ability to introduce rotational concepts later.

While most see the Renegade Row as a “pulling" exercise, it is actually a combination of push and pull. The way we engage the ground, kettlebell, and perform the action while the row occurs influences much of the outcomes we achieve or don’t.

Introducing our bodies not to just planking, but how to resist other planes of movement while we plank is really key in making the plank a more “functional” exercise. This also teaches great value to engaging the ground properly and how to stabilize as we try to move our extremities.

Kettlebell Anti-Rotational Squats

Learning to perform foundational movement patterns is important. However, we can progress the movement by other means than just load or more reps. Adding complexity to a movement pattern can help us build greater meaning and results from even classic strength training exercises. These kettlebell anti-rotational squat variations are a great example.

Most coaches think the value of kettlebells in squats is to just teach good squatting technique. In reality, kettlebells offer us the ability to progress the squat in ways that traditional squat variations simply can’t replicate. Most notable is teaching how to squat while resisting other planes of movement like rotation.

Many times an athlete or client can have great strength in an exercise like the squat, but can’t come close to producing the same level of strength or even the ability to squat and resist unwanted movement. Such a discrepancy makes us question if just loading up on traditional squat patterns creates the carry over to sport and life we generally assume occurs.

DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Around the Worlds

In our Dynamic Variable Resistance Training system (DVRT), we can take a movement and go from foundational to very complex. Around the Worlds are a great example of using this DVRT idea as we can use them for great anti-rotational training to rotational power.

The Around the World isn’t a Halo because the range of motion is far greater allowing us to challenge core stability/strength with lighter loads and in far longer ranges. It is also not just a lift/chop pattern where we move in a diagonal across the body. Rather, it is a 360 degree lift/chop where we learn to have a far more reactive plank.

Learning to brace is important, however, learning to have a more reflexive core is a more sophisticated goal of core training. If we just brace we can’t move and we can develop dysfunction from creating too much tension too often. Around the Worlds and their progressions go a long way to build the type of core strength we ideally want to achieve.

DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Inside Out Hip Hinges

When we add more joints into a movement we increase complexity and intensity to a movement. So far, we have kept a rather upright and static trunk position. Eventually we want to add more joints to reflect the type of rotational strength we really need in life, most notably our hip hinge.

The fear of hurting one’s back in rotational exercises is a real one if we don’t pattern moving through the ground and hips first. Whenever we add complexity and intensity to rotational patterns we want to first and foremost know we are keeping the client safe. That is why some of these DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Inside Out Hip Hinge progressions are so important and effective for teaching people both concepts.

We can build strength, stability, and later add power into the training program while still keeping a safe training environment for the client. If we layer the above mentioned exercises in this month’s Metabolic Stability like you see in the videos, we can finally bridge this often forgotten movement pattern into every day training. The key is to understand what creates rotation and how to build it from simple to complex!

Josh Henkin, CSCS is creator of the DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training system and has been a kettlebell instructor since 2003. His work has had him teach at world class fitness events and teach his DVRT program in over 13 countries worldwide. Don’t miss the upcoming DVRT programs in HERE