Around eight years ago, my friends got together for a slow-pitch softball game. Although I hadn’t swung a bat in years, I managed to crank out five out-of-the-park homeruns that day. One of them cleared the fence by at least a hundred feet. I was pretty surprised…as were my friends. My hitting power sky-rocketed from just getting stronger in the gym. I didn’t do any form of “sport-specific training,” I just got strong at exercises such as squats, deadlifts, walking lunges, back extensions, bench press, weighted dips, military press, chin ups, bent over rows, and one arm rows. Times like these made me realize the importance of strength as it pertains to unleashing your maximal power potential.

Since this time I’ve trained a whole-lotta people, I’ve read a whole-lotta books and articles, and I’ve continued to train hard myself. And I still believe that just getting stronger at basic, compound movements is critical for power. However, power is directional specific, and while strong muscles will get you pretty far, you can get a little bit further if you engage in some specific forms of strength training. I believe that in order to achieve optimal rotary power, one must get strong at big, compound lifts, while also performing rotary strength exercises, rotary power exercises, and practicing specific sports skills.

Below are five excellent rotary exercises that will help maximize your explosive rotational power.

1. The Explosive Rotational Landmine

This is quite different than the normal landmine. Notice the footwork. This allows you to move around the bar and reposition yourself so you can get maximum explosiveness on each rep. Make sure you put the women and children to bed before attempting this exercise – it’s no joke!

2. Overhead Lateral/Rotational Press

This is an amazing core exercise that works the core as a lateral flexor and a rotator.

3. Band Hip Rotations

I’ll keep ranting and raving about this exercise ’til I’m blue in the face. It’s a very difficult exercise to master. You have to set up with your body angled inward a bit toward the line of pull of the band. This way you keep constant tension on the hip rotators as you twist. To reiterate, you don’t line up facing the band, your back foot is further away from the band than the front foot. This exercise activates the glutes like crazy, trains the glutes in their hip external rotation function, and “bridges the gap” between the weightroom and the field. It works the hip internal rotators on the front leg, hip external rotators on the back leg, internal obliques on one side, and external obliques on the other side. It’s the best core exercise that you’re not doing at the moment! If you don’t feel this working the glutes big-time then you’re doing it wrong. Keep working it until you get it right. Monster-mini jump stretch bands work best for this exercise.

4. Low-High Rotary Pull

Here’s an excellent core exercise that works the lower body, core, and upper body pulling musculature in one movement.

5. Low-High Rotary Press

Here’s an excellent core exercise that works the lower body, core, and upper body pressing musculature in one movement.

Hopefully this post has given you some ideas as to how you can go about increasing your rotational power through specific rotary strength training. Spend some time on these and you’ll be belting home runs out of the park like McGwire in no time!

24 Comments

  • great post, I work with many swimmers and every freestyler and backstroke swimmer needs to emphasize rotatory movements. Unfortunately, they all come to me with years of horrible squat mechanics…keep it up Bret.

  • Hell yes! Rotating Landmines are the sh*t! Helps in MMA too… my hook punches dust out some serious damage. Is this the “official” name for them Bret? I never bothered to look that up. I used to just call em Barbell Rotations.

  • P. J. Striet says:

    Great stuff as always. Gonna give that explosive landmine a shot today.

  • Fotis says:

    Bret man,I feel that you are so knowledgeable but damn it you are not getting enough light. I want to see more articles from you and your blog posts are not that frequent.Please fix that

    Kidding man,I wish we could see some more quality articles out there and you are one of the guys we can count on!Keep it up 😀

  • Good stuff. I think you need some Public Enemy playing in the background, though. That increases the effectiveness of all exercises by 27.8% and the absorption of creatine and BCAA’s by 349.926%. Seriously.

  • H says:

    Would be awesome if you could put together something for the ladies too.. In my case, bigger and rounder rather than smaller and tighter. U know what it is. 🙂 I will be patiently waiting. Thank you in advance.

  • Jim Krueger says:

    Hey Bret,

    These movements look like a great supplement to the basic compound exercises. One question: what kind of handle attachment are you using for the pulley cable? I could figure out how to approximate these with a do-it-yourself solution, but what is it that you’re using?

    Thanks,
    Jim

    • Jim, it’s a Cook bar. You can get it from Perform Better. Also check out Nick Tumminello’s Core bar. Might be even better. Some people just get a PVC pipe and put hooks on the end but I’m very happy I made the purchase…it won’t fall apart and it’s probably the best piece of equipment for rotary strength.

  • s2bfitness says:

    We do the low-high rotary pull up here in Boston all the time, it’s called shoveling snow.

    Explosive landmine works well in conditioning circuits. Badass

  • Michael says:

    Thank you so much for these moves Bret! I can’t wait to get in the gym and put them to use. BTW, I just want to say thank you for providing a site with real innovation and substance. It seems like every time someone posts a question to a trainer on any posterior chain muscle, you get that same old tired response: squat, deadlift, lunge, 3 sets, 8 reps, high protein etc. You know… the same stuff we all robotically say and do and have mediocre bodies, as we tell ourselves we don’t inject ‘roids, have flat butt genetics or are old, injured or work too much with the family.

    Is it just me or has everyone else been doing those moves with heavy weight and proper form for years and still haven’t gotten what we want in the glute and ham department?

    In the last six weeks however, I’ve added hip thrusts, hill sprints, box squats, jumps, in addition to my power moves and cardio, and for the first time, I feel myself resisting the glutes from contracting. When I’m at the grocery store my butt is ready to fire! Ha! I also that notice my recovery for my entire body is off the charts! I can hit the workouts hard daily without that crippling soreness or injury and it feels great! (Still no supplements; just food and sleep) Anyway, your blog has changed my training and overall feeling of power more than any other book, site or blog in years!

    Thank you!

    • Michael, thanks for the kind words. If only I had a dollar for every time I received a comment or email like this. It’s great that these methods are taking off, and thanks to people like you who are willing to try them out, they’re getting more and more popular. Thanks again.

  • D.Morales says:

    Hi Bret,
    I was hoping Karli would be demonstrating the exercises.Keep up the awesome blog!

  • Brett, on one of your videos concerning glute/ham exercises you mentioned up to 20 reps. If training for speed and strength, i.e. football (fullback/linebacker) what is the reppage you would recommend. Thanks, rw

  • Sean says:

    Bret,

    This is my first time checking out your blog. I was sent here by a friend of mine who is also an athletic injury specializing sports chiropractor. I love the exercises you chose to list here. My question to you is when do YOU recommend doing these? Do you think doing all 5 in one day for a relatively well conditioned athlete is too much? For a professional athlete? Do you think the athlete will potentially reach a compensation saturation where the movements become redundant if done in the same day? WHat are your thoughts? I look forward to reading your response.

    Also, Stu McGill praises rotational stability being built with an isometric core and isotonic extremities, what is your thought on this?

    • Bret says:

      Sean, I would only do one rotational exercise per workout – and only 2 sets. You’re already doing tons of core with squats, deads, chins, etc., and the extra core work is useful but some go overboard with it. I like to do 2 core exercises per day, one that’s linear (sagittal) and one that’s either lateral (frontal) or rotational (torsional). As for Dr. McGill’s thoughts, I wouldn’t disagree, but I’m sure he’d agree that you should progress from pure isometric to isometric with limb movement to more dynamic movements where the core moves but you try to get most of the rotation in the t-spine. For example, planks and side planks, to rollouts and Pallof presses, to chops and lifts.

  • Cooter says:

    Bret

    This is my favorite article. Whenever someone on the Training forum at softballfans.com ask’s “What excercises improve homerun power?” I post a link to this article.

    What is your opinion of the Russian Twist? Not the one where you’re sitting on the floor and touch a medicine ball to either side, but the one where you start supine on a GHD with your feet secured in the rollers, legs straight, glutes on the pad, and upper body held parallel to the floor. You then rotate to left, back to start, then to right, back to start.

    Do you feel the rotation would take place in the thoracic spine, and therefore be safe; or the lumbar spine, and therefore should be avoided by rec-league slow-pitch players? I read Russian athletes used do them with 25kg plates. They used wall bars and a pommel horse instead of a GHD.

    • Bret says:

      Cooter – That’s what I’m talkin’ bout! Thanks man.

      Regarding the Russian twist. I believe that the floor version is safer, but not as intense. I was fooling around with the GHD version the other day and I was figuring out a way to do them with a good amount of hip rotation too. I believe that there’s a way to do them safely, as long as you limit volume and frequency (and intensity), and as long as you rotate in the hips and t-spine primarily (with slight rotation in lumbar spine). You just do want a bunch of flexion and you don’t want too much lumbar rotation, which is hard to “see” when athletes perform the movements. You’d definitely want to make sure that the athletes performing the movements had good levels of hip and t-spine mobility, otherwise they’ll be forced to rotate mostly in the t-spine.

      There are definitely safer movements that train spinal rotation, such as the woodchop, cable chop, cable lift, Pallof press (actually anti-rotation but still similar). But the Russian twist really hits the hip flexors, rectus abdominis, and obliques all at once. For this reason, it’s a tremenously effective movement from a muscular perspective, but a tremendously dangerous exercise from a spinal loading perspective (remember compressive loading is created by muscular contractions so any good core movement creates a lot of compression). Hope that helps!

      Bret

  • Brian Thompson says:

    Hi Brett:

    First, your 2 x 4 program is amazing. I’ve finished my first 14 weeks and have never felt stronger or better.

    Second, is there a book or DVD that could instruct me on the various stretches to do with bands? I’m older and feeling somewhat tight and have noticed quite a few guys at my gym stretching hip flexors, etc. with bands. If you don’t know of any published books, dvds, could you recommend some authors would might have some information? Thanks again! And Happy Holidays!

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