Building Anti-Rotational Strength
If we had to look at two forms of strength that most people lack, it is hard to argue with lateral and anti-rotational strength. Even in 2017, most fitness and performance programs are dominated with few exercises that take training outside of the sagittal plane. Those movements that do try to broaden our movement strength often get misused because the lack of understanding what makes them great.
Such an example is that of the classic Renegade Row. I can remember that the Renegade Row started getting popularity in around 2003 after Strength Coach, John Davies (known as the “Renegade Strength Coach) talked about this exercise quite a bit. The unique looking exercise came around the same time as kettlebells started getting momentum back in fitness. That means we saw much of the first variations of this exercise done with kettlebells.
Now we see Renegade Rows in pretty much any and all fitness magazines along with many mainstream fitness magazines. Sadly though, seeing it done correctly is something far more rare than the exercise itself.
Yes, the Renegade Row is a perfect example of the type of strength training so many people are missing. What makes it so great? It fulfills all these qualities…
- Requires Lateral Hip Strength
- Ties in the Posterior and Anterior Myofascial Slings
- Teaches Proper Ground Engagement
- Becomes A More Dynamic Plank
- Shoulder and Hip Stability
In other words, it is a HUGE bang for your buck exercise! The tough part is that is a VERY demanding exercise to teach and requires a really strong foundation to do well. That is why it is rare to see the Renegade Row done well. That is until we provide you some great progressions to the Renegade Row!
Ultimate Sandbag Bird Dog
Holding one’s bodyweight is one feat for many people, doing so and knowing how to RESIST movement is a whole different level of strength. That is why introducing clients to ideas of resisting movement should start in a much more stable environment.
The Bird Dog is an often overlooked starting point for many coaches that want to take clients to more successful planks, crawls, and drills like the Renegade Row. The more stable environment allows us to build such specific strength as well as using the Ultimate Sandbag offers progressions that allow people to learn how to use their body more efficiently in these patterns.
This Ultimate Sandbag Bird Dog series is an ideal starting point not just for Renegade Rows, but anyone looking to improve the work of their clients with any planking.
TRX Archer Push-up
The TRX is a very useful tool because it allows us to teach concepts of movement in a more unloaded position. Compared to being just on the ground, the TRX allows us to change angle over time to increase intensity and make sure we are appropriately challenging the client.
The Archer Push-up is a way to teach the concepts of the Renegade Row in a more progressive environment. While most people focus on the rowing of the weight, the key to the Renegade Row is the ability to develop force of the stance arm and the feet into the ground. This creates stability through the whole body and a platform for the rowing arm to move.
The movement of the Archer Push-up is perfect for teaching these concepts for just about any fitness level. Understanding that both arms are active and you must create tension from the ground up is key in moving to more complex environments.
Ultimate Sandbag Pallof Press
When we think of strong anti-rotational exercises, there are few that seem as popular and productive as the Pallof Press. Not only does this drill give us a great opportunity to build anti-rotational core strength, but a key connection where most versions of this exercise miss out….GRIP!
Yes, not only is our grip correlated to rotator cuff health, but actively gripping something allows us to use our lat/core connection better and you can instantly feel the difference. In most versions of the Pallof Press, one arm is unable to create tension and we usually see changes in the shoulder, core, or hip positioning. However, by deliberating engaging our hands we actually get BETTER core activation and can use these strategies to build to more complex patterns as you will see.
Kettlebell Off-Set Lunge
How does a lunge off-set kettlebell lunge have ANYTHING to do with Renegade Rows? One of the big issues in performing Renegade Rows well is the connection of the hip and core. Most people focus on just the upper body, but to perform these drills well you need to know how to integrate the ENTIRE body more effectively and efficiently.
Lunging itself builds lateral and anti-rotational strength, but often adding load with something like kettlebells offers more stability to the movement. Yes, we are adding load, but using that load with deliberate tension helps people understand how to use their whole body as one unit rather than just upper or lower body.
The off-set position of the kettlebells gives us a change to teach both how to resist extension by pushing into the ground as well as lateral forces that are created by both the pressing and the off-set position. This can be a great means of building mobility and stability that will carry over to being in a more demanding body position that the Renegade Row requires!
As you can see, sometimes the BEST way to build qualities of an exercise aren’t by doing the exercise itself at all! Instead by realizing what makes up the movement so we can use other drills to help bring up those weak links that often keep us from being successful. This means we can keep training hard, but also bring smart training to the table for our clients.
Josh Henkin, CSCS, is the creator of the DVRT system and Ultimate Sandbag. Coach Henkin has taught his program to elite military, university programs, and top fitness facilities in over 13 countries worldwide. You can find out more about DVRT education HERE.