Rotationary vs. anti-rotationary. Can you name the difference between these two ways of targeting abs?

When it comes to abs, there can be some controversy and conflict between the rotationary and anti-rotationary exercise camps. We’ll talk about that in a minute, but first let’s break down rotationary vs. anti-rotationary ab exercises.

Rotationary Ab Exercises

As the name would suggest, rotationary ab exercises involve a twisting or bending of the core. Through this twisting movement, different planes of the core are targetted, exercises and bolstered.

A few example exercises, photos courtesy of Men’s Fitness include:

  • Lower body Russian twists
    • lower-body-russian-twist
  • Weighted gym ball crunches
    • Weighted gym ball crunch
  • Gym ball Russian twist
    • Gym ball Russian twist

A few other exercises you may be familiar with include bicycle crunches and side-to-side medicine ball slams.

Rotational exercises are intended to not only work the rectus abdominis, but to also target the internal and external obliques in a big way. These are muscles groups that really frame the rectus abdominis and take your core to a new level of appeal.

ab diagram

Anti-Rotationary Ab Exercises

Anti-rotationary ab exercises prevent the spine from rotating or twisting.

Ab exercises in this category include (images courtesy of Built Lean):

  • Planks
  • Kneeling pallof press
    • Kneeling Pallof Press
  • Half kneeling push/ pull
    • Half Kneeling Push : Pull
  • One-arm dumbbell bench press
    • 1-Arm Dumbbell Bench Press
  • Standing cable anti-rotation chop
    • Standing Cable Anti-Rotation Chop

The Conflict Between Rotationary vs. Anti-Rotationary Camps

The biggest conflict between these two methods of exercising and strengthening your core is your spine. Anti-rotationary advocates are adamant that rotationary exercises put unnecessary and unnatural pressure on the spine, while rotationary advocates vehemently defend against their exercises.

So which is it? Are rotationary exercises outdated and harmful to your core?

Blend in compliment and be cautious.
In order to build a strong core, it’s going to be important to mix both rotationary and anti-rotationary exercises for balanced development.

The key is to utilize a mix that naturally compliment one another in movement and to be cautious with whatever technique you incorporate.

Train Abs Like Any Other Muscle Group

Since we’re on the topic of abs, it’s incredibly important to discuss how to sculpt your ideal core.

Blasting your core with endless sets of 100’s of reps isn’t going to equal beach-ready abs worthy of a Men’s Fitness cover. Overtraining is going to do the opposite.

A good way to think about working your core is the way you’d treat your arms. Arms are involved in just about any upper body exercise you’ll do. This being said, it’s important to resist the temptation to overtrain them, especially if you’re hellbent on building them.

The same goes for abs—it’s easy to overtrain, so you’d best avoid that temptation if you want to see results.

Also, just like arms, weight and 8-10 reps is the sweet spot for triggering growth.

For some more advice on abs check out the following: