By Coach Chris Collins, CPT
"Should I be feeling this here or here?" he asked. I was talking to an exerciser doing an anti-rotational press. After finishing his set, dropping his arms and relaxing his shoulders, he pointed to each hip back and forth.
It's an interesting question , and in its answer, an opportunity to go into detail the interesting musculature and functionality of the abdominal wall and the definition of a word we like to throw around a lot in the gym: torque.
To the question. In general, our anti-rotator should be feeling it on both sides. That is because of the position of the abdominal wall muscles, which are not only stacked in an interior to superficial fashion but also align opposite each other diagonally.
For example, in an anti-rotational press, the external oblique, which is the outer layer of muscle originating on the outer crest of the hip, pulls the lower 8 ribs down and toward the front pelvis in the direction of the rectus abdominis. To further bolster the abdominal vertically, the muscles just underneath the external oblique, the aptly named interior oblique activate. Because they run diagonally counter to the external oblique, originating more toward the spine and on the inner crest of the pelvis, they pull the bottom four ribs down and back.
Because of where they originate and attach, the internal and external oblique muscles are producing torque in opposite directions. This mechanism, along with the even deeper activation of the transverses abdominis helps stabilize both hips in their sockets and prevent spinal rotation.
It's what we mean when we say "brace." It's not enough that we offset an anti-rotational force superficially. To further strengthen your midsection, breathe outwardly, forcefully, and think of pushing your abdomen out.
You'll thank me the next time you drive around a long curve on a country road or hop on a roller coaster at your favorite theme park. Don't give into the centrifugal force. Stay upright, people!