By Tony Gracia, Head Coach and Co-Founder at Industrial Strength.
This series of articles highlights fifteen of my favorite exercises that I think are awesome and do not get the appreciation they deserve. The first week of installments focused on major lower body strength developers, the second week on upper body strength movements, the third week on unilateral lower body strength exercises, the fourth week on various functional strength and athletic development exercises, and this final week on core strength.
UNDERRATED EXERCISE #15 = Full Contact Twist
The final installment of this series will focus on one of the best athlete-building core exercises out there: the full contact twist. As the story goes, the exercise got its name because Russian full contact fighters would use it all the time to increase their punching power … now I have no idea if that is true or not, but I like the story so I am just going to with it!
Regardless of how it got its name (other people call it a “landmine twist”) it is an awesome exercise. Most core strengthening exercises are performed on the floor, such as the bodysaw and the kettlebell drag through that were covered in the previous installments. That said, almost every sport is performed from standing at least some of the time, so the ability to transfer your core strength into a standing position is imperative. Additionally, as the saying goes “power lives in the transverse plane” which basically means that the most powerful movements in sports all are based around rotational movements (throwing a punch or kick, swinging a baseball bat or golf club, throwing a ball or a heavy implement in track & field, techniques in Judo like a tai otoshi, etc.). So, in order to truly have a strong, athletic, and functional core, you need to be able to use it to its full potential during standing exercises / events and especially ones that have a twisting / rotational component. In my opinion the full contact twist is the best “core exercise” that will train your body to connect your midsection throughout your entire kinetic chain in a truly functional, athletic way.
HOW TO DO THEM
- Put a barbell into a landmine and lift the free end up above your head, holding it with two hands
- Start the exercise with a shoulder width stance, knees and hips slightly flexed, and heels slightly off the ground
- While maintaining your hands mostly in front of your mid-line, pivot on your toes to allow the end of the bar to drop and spin to one side until it has reached your hip crease
- To get the bar back up to the starting position, dig the toes in and rotate your hips … any lifting from the arms should be secondary to the movement from the lower body
- It is critical that your whole body and the bar move together as one unit, and in particular that you pivot on your toes as the bar moves from side to side. If you allow the bar to move to the side but your toes stay straight ahead it can be dangerous for your back and knees
- When learning the exercise move slowly and ensure that your toes, knees, hips, and shoulders are all facing the same direction at all times
- If you spend time with the exercise and feel good with it, you can start to add a more explosive “ballistic” component to the upward part, however I still encourage you to use control during the negative
- When performing the exercise, a little bit of weight goes a long way. Start with an empty bar and add weight very slowly (if you even add any)
- I recommend 5-10 reps per side. I suggest you start on the low end to ensure you do not lose form due to fatigue, and only add reps once you really own the technique