Written by Greg Robins
Traditionally, athletic preparation lends itself to exercises, and preparation means that are predominantly done in the sagittal plane. For example, the staples of most athletes’ programs focus on the squat, deadlift, clean, bench press, sprint, vertical and horizontal jump. These are all great places to start. However, ineffective training of the frontal, and transverse planes will leave you with a very incomplete athlete.
In order to maximize the preparation of any athlete you must know how to build rotational power.
So how do we effectively train the other two planes, whilst also taking advantage of the massive power that can be built sagittaly?
First, let’s talk about the means.
Rotational power, in my eyes comes down to timing, and the ability to transfer force through a stable mid-section.
Let’s watch this quick video of Cressey Performance Athlete, and my friend, Chad Rodgers.
Chad is able to drive a considerable amount of power through the ground with his back leg. That force is transferred through the hips, into a stable core position, and creates a powerful amount of whip at the upper extremities. If his timing is off, or he loses stability through the mid-section, the power of that movement will be greatly diminished.
In order to train for this ideal scenario we need to break it down:
The first step is building general power through the ground. This can be done in all of the traditional ways. For example, basic barbell exercises for maximal strength improvements. Also, jumps, plyometrics, and special strength exercises for power development / reactive strength improvements.
The lesser-utilized methods for ground force improvements; especially in regards to building rotational strength is the training of lateral power. Research has shown that in baseball for example, lateral power has better transfer than power trained in any other plane. (Read this interview with one of the researchers at EricCressey.com)
Moving up the chain, we next need the ability to time the hip transfer. Check out the video I made awhile back that illustrates how to work on the timing of transferring weight from the back hip to front hip:
After we generate the power from the ground, and time the hip transfer correctly, we need to make sure power transfers through a stable core.
This means we need to train the core appropriately. In order to this we need to have a balance of both general and specific exercises in regards to rotational power. The general exercises are where I see the most problems.
The correct types of general core exercises for rotational power are movements that promote stability through the core, not moves that promote movement at the core. In other words, scrap the sit ups, and start doing more movements that work to keep the spine in a neutral position, while simultaneously moving the outer extremities.
Some example include:
– Chops / Lifts
– Anti-Rotation Presses
Specialized core exercises for rotational strength will be those in which the core is trained to rotate. Some examples include:
– Med ball throws (note: these are also rotational power specific exercises)
– Cable rotation exercises
If we put it all together this is what we find:
Rotational power needs to be trained in parts, as well as through actually performing explosive rotational movements.
In order to create rotational power we need to train for better force production into the ground, not just sagittaly, but laterally too. We also need to drill in timing of the hips to more efficiently transfer the force created through the ground. Lastly, we need to train the core to hold a stable position so that force can effectively make its way up the chain and create considerable whip of the upper extremities.Greg Robins is a Strength and Conditioning Specialist at Cressey Performance in Hudson, MA. Greg has worked with clientele ranging from general population to professional athletes. His unique experience in many different aspects of fitness, strength training, and athletic preparation have helped him become an unbiased authority on all things fitness and performance related. Outside of coaching Greg is a former collegiate baseball player, active member of the MA ARMY National Guard, and enjoys power lifting. Website, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter