Anti-Motion Core Training
‘Anti-motion’ core training is about improving your ability to resist external forces (people, weights, cables, bears) that are causing unwanted flexion, extension and/or rotation at your spine.
In other words, ‘anti-motion’ exercises require you to contract the muscles of your trunk (hard) to prevent you from being pulled and twisted in to bad positions.
Performing different types of ‘anti-motion’ exercises strengthens the core musculature in a ‘functional’ manner and helps keep you strong and stable in life, sport and the gym.
Quick Note on the Core’s Functions
The muscles of your core wrap around your spine (like a cylinder) and work together to:
Protect the spine (by helping to maintain its neutrality when confronted with unwanted motions).
Transfer force from the legs to the shoulders/arms/hands/barbell/opponent/bat/whatever your task.
The second function can be improved by using exercises that require you to transfer force from the lower body to the upper body (e.g. a push press or a medicine ball throw) but today we’ll focus on the first function, which can be improved by using anti-extension, anti-flexion and anti-rotation exercises…
Anti-extension core exercises are those in which you are required to resist extension at the spine.
If your core didn’t resist extension, you would end up walking around with an excessively arched lower back to the point where your butt would stick out. This would lead to aches and pains.
Anti-extension core exercises are used in many different types of programs, including those designed to treat lordosis and other postural problems.
Planks are an example of an anti-extension core exercise and they can be scaled to match a person's ability.
There are many different plank variations. Start with a regular plank and make it harder by moving your hands further forward (this increases the lever length and thus increases the extension forces that you’ll need to resist).
Ab wheel and Swiss ball rollouts are examples of advanced anti-extension exercises. Get comfortable with regular planks on a stable surface before attempting these.
The ability to rotate your torso (and control this rotation) is crucial in everyday life and sport. Throwing, kicking, simply turning to one side and spinning when dancing all involve rotation of the torso. Thus, when training the core, rotary exercises such as medicine ball throws should be included to train rotation.
However, when you’re not actively rotating, you need to be able to resist unwanted rotation caused by external forces such as when someone rugby tackles you out of nowhere. And this is where anti-rotation core training comes in.
Anti-rotation exercises include any exercise in which something is going to cause a tendency to rotate.
For example, during a Pallof press you are resisting the cable/band’s attempts to rotate your body towards the band. The further out you press the cable, the greater the rotational forces you have to resist. The Pallof press is thus an excellent way to train anti-rotation.
Lateral flexion essentially means side bending. So, anti-lateral flexion exercises are those that train your ability to resist unwanted side bendy motions.
Basically, anti-lateral flexion exercises are those that keep you standing tall when something (or someone) is pulling you to the side.
How do anti-lateral flexion exercises work?
By holding a heavy weight on one side of your body, but not the other, or positioning yourself in a certain way, your body is going to be inclined to bend to one side because there is a greater force pulling you to that side (something to do with gravity).
By bracing your mid-section (abs, trunk), you resist these forces and thus maintain strong and upright posture. Thus you are resisting, or preventing, lateral flexion.
When is anti-lateral flexion useful?Without anti-lateral flexion capabilities you will be unable to hold a suitcase or shopping bag without bending sideways. It’s also useful in sports when you are being pushed and pulled to the side.
Anti-Lateral Flexion Exercises
My favourite anti-lateral flexion exercises are loaded carries, and in particular the suitcase carry.
As well as being an excellent core exercise, the suitcase carry is really applicable to everyday life, burns loads of calories, increases grip strength and provides an excellent whole body stimulus. Another good anti-lateral flexion exercise is the side plank.
Some 'anti-motion' exercises will primarily focus on one ‘anti’ component but many will also tie in another.
For example, renegade rows are both an anti-rotation and an anti-extension exercise — two for the price of one, good deal.
‘Anti-motion’ core training is an excellent way of improving your core strength and should be used instead of high rep flexion based abs exercises. Include 'anti-motion' core training in your program for a stronger and healthier core.
Some core training is anti-motion but it's all pro sharing, if you enjoyed the article then please do share. Thanks!