by: Yuri Elkaim

The Best Anti-Rotation Exercises for a Strong Core

If your body was a solar system, the sun at its center would be your core.

Every time you move or suddenly expend energy, the action originates from this area, which begins just below your chest and wraps around down to your glutes.

Without it to hold you upright, you’d collapse – in fact, it’s where your center of gravity is located.

Okay, so maybe it’s not as dramatic as that, but I assure you: without a strong core, you will lose your strong center. And when that happens, it’s easy to get knocked out of place.

Even having six-pack abs is no guarantee that you have a strong core.

Your Core Is Your Center

You see, your core includes much more than just your six-pack muscles. In reality, your core is a girdle of muscle that lies beneath your six pack and stretches all the way around your lower back, where it connects to your glutes, hips, and obliques.

Core Muscles

When this corset of muscle is strengthened properly, you’ll have tighter, toned abdominals and an unrivaled center of gravity.

So how exactly do you do this?

Say hello to anti-rotation exercises.

What are Anti-Rotation Exercises?

Anti-rotation exercises both mimic and strengthen the natural function of your core, which is to stabilize your spine and move in an injury-free plane of motion.

You know what movements I’m talking about. The one where you’re carrying two grocery bags and one is heavier than the other, so you find you lower back straining to keep you upright.

Or perhaps the one where you almost slip and fall, and have to stop yourself in an awkward position without slipping a disk in your spine.

Anti-rotation exercises strengthen the entire length of your core by resisting force, so that these moments are handled by your muscles and not your spine.

15 Best Anti-Rotation Core Exercises

Below is a list of 15 of the best anti-rotation ab exercises you can do to strengthen your core and stay stable when your body is forced into sudden awkward movements.

For beginners, choose exercises at the “beginner” or “beginner-intermediate” levels, where you can adjust the amount of resistance to your personal fitness level.

1. Anti-Rotation Band Hold

Level: Beginner

The anti-rotation band hold is an excellent option for beginners to get used to what it feels like to resist rotation and to build up strength in these stabilizer muscles of the core and shoulders.

How to perform it:

  • Begin by looping one end of your band around a sturdy object to use as an anchor.
  • Bring tension to the band by stepping out and parallel to your anchor. Keep your feet hip width part and spine straight.
  • Clasp your band with both hands at chest level, then extend them straight in front of you. Feel your obliques, glutes, and shoulders engage as your body tries to rotate toward your anchor.
  • Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side.

2. Single-Arm Wall Push

Level: Beginner – Intermediate

The single-arm wall push takes your standard plank to a new whole-body, anti-rotation level. All you need is a wall to start feeling your stabilizer muscles engage through nearly every muscle in your body.

How to perform it:

  • Begin by coming into a plank position facing a wall. You should be positioned just far enough away that your palm can rest flat on it.
  • To make this exercise easier, spread your feet further apart. Keep your hands directly beneath your shoulders.
  • Now, if one arm and press your palm into the wall, making sure your torso and hips stay square to the ground.
  • Engage your glutes and core as you hold for 20 to 30 seconds, then switch to the other arm.

3. Standing Cable Anti-Rotation Chop

Level: Beginner – Intermediate

The anti-rotation chop challenges your core and hip stabilizers to keep you squared to the front throughout this exercise.

How to perform it:

  • Begin by loading your cable with a comfortable weight and a rope attachment.
  • Stand parallel to your machine, stepping out enough to put tension in the cable. Get into a wide stance and grasp the rope with both hands.
  • Extend your hand out in front of your chest, keeping your spine straight. “Chop” the cable to one side, engaging your core and avoiding moving your torso. Chop to the opposite side in one fluid movement.
  • Repeat for 8 to 12 reps on each side.

4. Cable Anti-Rotation (Pallof Press)

Level: Beginner – Intermediate

The Pallof is one of the best exercises for anti-rotation, simply due to its effectiveness and the fact that if you have a band, you can do the Pallof almost anywhere.

How to perform it:

  • Begin by standing parallel to a cable machine or other sturdy object, holding your cable (if you’re using it) or your band (after you’ve looped one end securely around your stable object).
  • Put resistance on the cable and hold the handle at your chest with both hands. You feet shoulder be hip-width apart.
  • Now, press the cable out in front of you, making sure you’re standing tall and as still as possible. You should feel the cable try to rotate your torso lightly. If you’re barely able to stand tall, lower your weight.
  • Return your hands to your chest and repeat for 8 to 12 reps on each side.

5. Landmine

Level: Intermediate

The landmine challenges the entire core and upper body to maintain stability as you alternate weight from side-to-side without twisting.

How to perform it:

  • Put a weight bar into a landmine or corner anchor, loading it with a moderate amount of weight.
  • Grasp the bar at shoulder height in front of you, positioning your feet wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • Keeping your arms slightly bent, swing the weight down to one side (still clasping with both hands). Engage your core and glutes to maintain your balance as you alternate sides.
  • Repeat for 10 to 15 reps.

6. Kneeling Pallof Press

Level: Beginner – Intermediate

Since your body has less stability in a split stance, this version of the Pallof requires more oblique engagement.

How to perform it:

  • Begin by kneeling parallel to your cable machine, knees hip-width apart. Grasp your cable in both hands at chest level.
  • Brace your core, keeping your spine straight, and press the cable in front of your chest. Hold for a beat, arms fully extended.
  • Return your hands to your chest and repeat for 8 to 10 reps on each side.

7. Anti-Rotation Single-Arm Press

Level: Beginner – Intermediate

The single arm press is a great exercise to add to your upper body routine and get in some anti-rotational work. The uneven push and pull of the cable here will have your obliques awake and working.

How to perform it:

  • Using either a cable or band (loop one end around a stable object), stand in front of your machine and hold the band with tension in one hand at chest height.
  • Position your feet hip-width apart (or closer together for a more challenging variation).
  • Keeping your spine straight and chest open, push your hand forward directly in front of your chest, resisting the urge to rotate your torso with the movement. Now bring your hand back to your chest and repeat, keeping your hips and shoulders square.
  • Repeat for 10 to 15 reps on each arm.

8. Single-Leg Romanian Deadlifts

Level: Intermediate

One-legged Romanian deadlifts engage the muscles of the entire core, while the uneven weight distribution works the stabilizer muscles of the obliques and glutes.

How to perform it:

  • Begin standing tall, arms by your sides and feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Keeping your knees “soft,” hinge forward at your hips, engaging your glutes. As you lower, lift your left leg out behind you. Keep your spine straight and shoulder blades slightly “pinched” together to avoiding letting your back round as you reach toward the ground in front of you.
  • Now press through your heel, feeling your glutes engage as they lift you to standing.
  • Keep your abs braced throughout the move.
  • Repeat for 8 to 12 reps on each leg.

Remember to go slow on these, avoiding using the momentum of your extended leg to swing back to standing. Note: if you’re not quite ready for the single-leg RDL, try the easier variations from the video.

9. Split-Stance Pallof Press

Level: Intermediate

The split-stance Pallof seriously challenges your center of balance, requiring the obliques to be fully engaged to keep you upright in your wide stance.

How to perform it:

  • Begin by standing parallel to your cable, grasping it at your chest with both hands.
  • Assume a split stance, where one foot is forward and the other extended behind you. Bend both knees slightly.
  • Press the cable out in front of you, making sure you’re standing tall and as still as possible.
  • Return your hands to your chest and repeat for 8 to 12 reps on each side.

10. Renegade Row

Level: Beginner – Intermediate

The renegade row requires deep engagement of your oblique stabilizers to avoid falling or rotating to one side as you lift a dumbbell to one side.

How to perform it:

  • Begin by grabbing a challenging dumbbell weight (for you). Come into a plank position, hands directly beneath your shoulders and body in a straight in from head to toe.
  • Grasp your dumbbell with your right hand and row, bringing the weight to your lower rib cage/waist area.
  • Avoid swaying from side-to-side or letting your hips drop as you row.

If this version of the renegade row is too difficult, try performing the row on an incline using a bench or sturdy chair.

11. Lateral Pallof Press

Level: Intermediate

The lateral Pallof press puts extra emphasis on your obliques and lower abdominals as you pull and push the cable overhead.

How to perform it:

  • Begin by coming into a half-kneel (sort of like a low lunge, with one knee on the floor and the other knee bent at 90 degrees) parallel to your cable machine. Grasp your cable in both hands at your chest.
  • You’ll probably already feel the cable attempting to pull you up and sideways. Resist this by bracing your core and focusing on fully extending your arms directly overhead.
  • Lower your hands to your chest and repeat for 8 to 12 reps on each side.

12. Half-Kneeling Vertical Pallof Press

Level: Intermediate

This version of the Pallof increases the level of instability, since your stance is staggered. This ups your core engagement and makes maintaining your balance more difficult.

How to perform it:

  • Begin grabbing your cable and kneeling in front of your machine, facing away from it. (You should use a split rope to grasp the cable so that it can comfortably press over your head and shoulders.)
  • Lift one leg up into a half-kneel (sort of like a low lunge).
  • Now, brace your core and press the cable over your head, fully extending your arms. Hold for a beat on the extension.
  • Repeat for 8 to 12 reps.

13. Anti-Rotation Lunge with Band

Level: Beginner

This is a great Pallof press progression, as it teaches your core how to resist rotation during everyday movements; in this case, the lunge.

How to perform it:

  • Begin by looping an exercise band around a sturdy object (or having a friend help you, like in the photo). Step out until the band is taut and grasp it with both hands.
  • Press out with both hands until your arms are fully extended. Hold them here as you step into a lunge.
  • Continue lunging with your arms extended for 8 to 10 reps on each side.

14. Anti-Rotation Plank Pull Through

Level: Intermediate

Plank pull throughs add a serious balance challenge to the standard plank, pushing your obliques and shoulder stabilizing muscles into overdrive to keep you from rotating as you pull weighted bag beneath you.

How to perform it:

  • Grab a sandbag or duffle bag filled with enough weight that you can slide across the floor with some effort. Set it beside your shoulder.
  • Begin in a high plank/pushup position, hands directly beneath your shoulders and feet slightly wider than hip-width apart for stability (the wider your feet are, the easier this exercise will be).
  • Bracing your abs, reach under your chest with one arm and pull the bag through underneath you to your other side. Avoid rotating or swaying by squeezing your glutes.
  • Repeat, alternating pulls, for 10 to 15 reps.

If you find this is too difficult, try using a lighter bag weight or even doing this exercise on your knees.

15. Anti-Rotation Band Squats

Level: Intermediate

These banded squats work in a similar fashion as anti-rotation lunges, training your core to handle anti-rotational resistance. Combining them with the Pallof press provides extra core engagement.

How to perform it:

  • Begin by looping an exercise band around a sturdy object (or having a friend help you, like in the photo). Step out until the band has a bit of tension and grasp it with both hands.
  • Press out with both hands until your arms are fully extended. Hold them here as you lower into a squat, making sure your feet are hip-width apart and that your weight is in your heels.
  • As you rise from the squat, press your hands forward into a Pallof press. Return them to your chest, extend them again, and repeat the squat.
  • Avoid leaning forward or to the side as you squat, concentrating on engaging your glutes and core.
  • Repeat for 8 to 10 reps on each side.

Add These Exercises to Your Routine

For best results, try to add 4 or 5 of these exercises into your weekly full-body/abdominal workout days, 2 to 3 times a week.

For instance, this could look like:

  • 2 to 3 sets of the Pallof Press: 10 to 12 reps on each side
  • 2 to 3 sets of the Renegade Row: 8 to 12 reps on each side
  • 2 to 3 sets of Anti-Rotation Lunges with Band: 8 to 10 reps on each leg
  • 2 to 3 sets of Single-Leg Romanian Deadlifts: 8 to 12 reps on each leg.

Or, if you’re strapped for time, you can add some of these as a finisher to your regular workout as a “mini” anti-rotation ab workout.

As an example, try adding 3 to 4 of a combination of these exercises to the end of your workouts a few times a week. Stick with 8 to 12 reps of a challenging weight to get the most out of your finisher.

Your Body Revolves Around Your Core

Once you strengthen your own personal sun (your core), the rest of your body will fall into an orbit of harmony, strength, and tautness.

Plus, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of owning your space with the power that comes with a strong core.

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In this free download, I outline 7 smart (and little-known) steps to getting flat abs – the healthy way.

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