Core Power, with a Twist

Dec 12 / Build Muscle

MOST LIFTS SHARE THE SAME DRAWBACK. They occur in a single plane of motion--up and down or forward and back, for example. The movements of everyday life, meanwhile, are seldom that straightforward, says Tony Gentilcore, C.S.C.S., a strength coach at Cressey Performance, in Hudson, Massachusetts. So add a twist to your workouts with the rotational exercises shown here. You'll build real-world strength; and because rotation comes from the core, you'll also sculpt a stronger six-pack. DO THIS Perform the exercises as a circuit, moving from one to the next without resting until you've completed...

MOST LIFTS SHARE THE SAME DRAWBACK. They occur in a single plane of motion--up and down or forward and back, for example. The movements of everyday life, meanwhile, are seldom that straightforward, says Tony Gentilcore, C.S.C.S., a strength coach at Cressey Performance, in Hudson, Massachusetts. So add a twist to your workouts with the rotational exercises shown here. You'll build real-world strength; and because rotation comes from the core, you'll also sculpt a stronger six-pack.

DO THIS Perform the exercises as a circuit, moving from one to the next without resting until you've completed them all. Then rest 60 seconds. Repeat as many times as you can in 15 minutes. (When you're ready for a real challenge, you'll want to try musclemorphosis.com. Our new cutting-edge system will melt fat, torch calories, and sculpt every single muscle in your body.)

Medicine-ball reverse lunge and shot put

Hold a medicine ball at your chest and face a wall 10 feet away. This is the starting position. Lunge backward with your right leg while rotating your torso and the ball to your right. When your right knee is an inch or two off the floor, throw the ball toward the wall and push yourself back to the starting position. Catch the ball on the rebound. That's 1 rep. Do 5, switch legs, and repeat to your left.

Barbell twist

Place one end of a barbell on the floor in a corner. Hold the other end in both hands at eye level, and assume an athletic stance. This is the starting position. Keeping your arms straight, pivot on your right foot and rotate your hips and torso to the left. Lower the bar as far as you can without bending your back or arms. Return to the starting position. That's 1 rep. Do 5 on each side.

Rotational cable row

Attach a stirrup handle to the low pulley of a cable station and hold it in your right hand. Face the cable station and assume a staggered stance, your left foot forward and knees bent. Now pull the handle across to your right hip as you rotate up and to the right into a standing position. That's 1 rep. Do 10, switch sides, and repeat to your left. (Want to strengthen your back but don't have the equipment? Check out this musclemorphosis.com.)

Rotation tip: Too much lower-back rotation can cause injury, Gentilcore says. "Focus on rotating through your hips and middle back instead."

Prevent Shoulder Pain

Challenging yourself to work harder is good, but too many pushing exercises (bench presses, pushups, dips) can land you in shoulder rehab. "Most training-related shoulder problems result from not doing enough pulling exercises, like rows and chinups," says Bill Hartman, P.T., C.S.C.S., a physical therapist in Indianapolis. "This imbalance can cause a loss of internal and external shoulder rotation." The result: Your shoulders become more susceptible to muscle strains and impingements. Use these two tests to assess your risk. (You can also blast your shoulders with this musclemorphosis.com.)

1 Let your left arm hang by your side, and then try to touch your right shoulder blade by sliding the back of your left hand along your back.

2 Try to touch your right shoulder blade from above by reaching behind your head with your left hand.

Repeat each test with your right arm. If you don't pass both tests with each arm, perform twice as many pulling exercises as pushing exercises for the next 2 to 3 months. Then return to a more balanced 1-to-1 ratio. The caveat: "If you have recurring shoulder pain," Hartman says, "see your doctor."