Over the last several weeks, we have talked about all kinds of different, basic bodyweight movements that have had the body squatting, lunging, pushing and pulling. These are all fundamental movements which require good technique and balance before an athlete can progress to more advanced movements (or efforts) in a training program.
Nearly every human movement includes some sort of rotation. There is even subtle rotation (or resistance to rotation) in walking and running. Yet rotation is one of the most commonly omitted movements that in most training programs. This is most likely due to the fear of injury to the back, yet ignoring rotation in training will probably put the athlete at risk for back injury later when they are required to perform explosive, loaded rotational movements in the sport they participate in.
Like any exercise, check with a qualified trainer and your doctor before implementing any exercise into your program.
A basic movement that starts to incorporate rotation is the medicine ball chop movement. It builds upon the bodyweight squat motion we talked about earlier. There are two parts to this exercise: the Overhead Chop and the Diagonal Chop.
The Overhead Chop starts with a light medicine ball (for men, usually 8 pounds is fine, women may use 4-6 pounds) or dumbbell held over and slightly in front of the head, with the torso and legs standing straight up. Keeping your arms straight, lower the weight in front of you while squatting low, keeping your head and chest up, hips down and feet flat. Return to the starting position to complete a repetition.
The Diagonal Chop is very similar, but now start with the ball (or weight) over one shoulder, and as you squat down lower the ball in a diagonal pattern so it crosses in front of you and finished by your opposite side waist. Then reverse the motion to return to the starting position. Remember to keep your head and chest up as best as you can throughout the motion and to lower yourself to the ground by loading the legs: drop the hips, bend the knees and keep the feet flat. Be sure to perform repetitions on both side of the body.
Once the athlete becomes comfortable doing these movements on a regular basis, it is an excellent activity to include in the warm-up. It is a full-body motion that includes rotation and is a good springboard into more specific movements that prepare the athlete for the prescribed activities of the workout.