Get Your Diagonal On!

You’ve probably been told to ‘get the negative,’ but how about ‘get the diagonal’? Yep, the diagonal. As in rotation…as in not just straight up and down or backward/forward. As in UNLIKE most traditional exercise (think stationary bicycle, bicep curl, sit-ups….you get the idea). The fact is, your body is actually designed to move on the diagonal. The proof is in the anatomy– check out how most muscles are actually oriented (right).  Whether it’s your butt (glutes), your shoulder (rotator cuff muscles), your abdomen (obliques), or even your arm (biceps)…they’re simply meant to work on angles (think tennis serve, golf swing, unloading the dishwasher…).

So what do you do with that info? Exercise the way your body is meant to move: in multiple directions. Tweak traditional exercises to turn them into more functional moves like 3D lunges, “woodchops,” and rotational bicep curls as demonstrated in the following videos (which are included ONLY to help you visualize how rotation can be incorporated into exercises ; I am not endorsing any of the instructors, their other exercises, or training techniques)

3D lunges (especially the backwards ones with trunk rotation)

Woodchops (different versions of same basic movement)

Or Rotating Bicep Curls (notice the turning of the forearms)

Although this post is intended to introduce the basic premise of rotational exercise, it’s worth pointing out that each of these exercises can be modified in so many ways to suit fitness level, skill level, and available equipment among other variables. To give you an idea of the breadth of options, they can be done with medicine balls, pully machines, free weights, kettle bells, resistance bands, or no resistance at all if preferred. They can be done in different positions, e.g.  kneeling(as demonstrated in above video) or midlevel. For added challenge, they can also be done using balance trainers like the BOSU or a Swiss ball.

These rotational-type of exercises should be a must in everyone’s workout routines. Aside from their relevance, what’s really nice is that there are a countless number of them with endless variations making boredom all but impossible (i.e. it’s your fault if you get bored). And from a practical perspective, one of the best things about these exercises is that you’re training your body in movement patterns and engaging all the muscles involved in those patterns rather than solitary muscles. That translates into better function, and more efficient exercise to boot. So it’s time to STOP thinking sit-ups, seated bicep curls, and hour-long stationary bicycle sessions all day, every day… and time to go get your diagonal on!

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