This is Your Quick Training Tip, a chance to learn how to work smarter in just a few moments so you can get right to your workout.
Any trainer worth their certification will tell you that the formula for a strong, powerful core isn’t solely composed of movements like crunches.
Sure, that classic abs exercise can help you chisel a washboard stomach, but if you want a core that boosts athletic performance as much as it turns heads, you need to look beyond movement-based exercises such as the crunch and situp and embrace those that challenge another of the core’s other primary functions, resisting movement—especially those that fall in the “anti-lateral flexion” category.
What Is Anti-Lateral Flexion?
The network of muscles enveloping your torso from your glutes to your traps (a.k.a. your core) serves two primary purposes: to flex, extend, and rotate your spine, and to resist those very same movements. In fact, many top kinesiologists argue that the latter responsibility (i.e., resisting unwanted or excessive movement of the spinal column) is not only its most important, but also its most undertrained—one of many reasons that you should add anti-movement core exercises to your weekly routine.
If the plank is already in your lineup, you’ve got anti-flexion covered. Moves such as the sandbag lateral drag, plank shoulder tap, and Pallof press will check the “anti-rotation” box. But to complete your anti-movement arsenal, you also need to include anti-lateral flexion exercises, which are any that require you to resist bending sideways.
How to Incorporate Anti-Lateral Flexion Into Your Workouts
The side plank is the most obvious example of an anti-lateral flexion movement, but it’s certainly not the only one. Most moves that can be classified as unilateral or that entail an offset load (e.g., single-arm farmer’s carry, offset split squat, the single-arm barbell deadlift) will do the trick. The key to force your core to resist allowing your torso to bend to your left or right.
Strengthening your core’s ability to oppose movement will not only reduce your risk of injury and improve your overall stability, but also improve the transfer of force between your lower and upper body. The result: greater strength and power in everything you do.
This article was first published on Men’s Health US.