The Twist

Tips – “Come on baby, let’s do the twist!” – Chubby Checker

We live our lives in 3 planes of motion: the sagittal (front and back), lateral (side-to-side), and transverse (rotational) planes. Odds are most of the exercises you’ve done in your life to date have taken place in the sagittal plane with frontal plane movements coming in at a distant 2nd place. You need to take Mr. Checker’s prophetic advice and start doing more exercises in the transverse plane. Here’s why…

When is the last time you performed a rotational movement in the course of your daily life? I’d guess very recently, and I’d also imagine you do it quite frequently whether you’re aware of it or not. When someone calls your name from behind what is the first thing you do? Most likely you turn your head and your torso begins to twist back toward the direction the call came from. You just executed a transverse plane movement with this twisting motion, and you’re likely doing it over and over again throughout the entire course of your day to one degree or another. We live in 3-dimensions, and our bodies want to move through those dimensions in the most efficient and effective manner possible. So why aren’t you exercising in all 3 planes of motion?

If we constantly stick to a sagittal plane exercise such as a lat pulldown – which is a great exercise that I utilize myself as well as with my clients – we are limiting our full range of core musculature development and rotational strength potential. We’re also potentially leaving ourselves vulnerable to imbalances and restricted ranges of motion that could easily translate into injuries if we continue to omit rotational exercises from our training. The lat pulldown is an excellent exercise, but it should be utilized as a complement to pullups or as a progression exercise to pullups for those that can’t do them yet. A traditional pull-up – hands equidistant on the bar, palms facing away, body straight, standard up-and-down sagittal plane movement to raise the chin just above the bar – is an extraordinarily beneficial exercise. Once you’re able to execute standard pullups however, you should seek out as many different variations to them as possible, especially those that take place in different planes of motion like this hand-over-hand rotational pullup.

The LeanLetic approach is never content with exercises being performed in one plane of motion when there’s other planes of motion that can be utilized to develop optimum functionality. It’s immediately apparent how much rotational strength is being utilized and developed in this pullup variation versus traditional pullups. The added benefit of being able to twist the lumbar in space (without the feet planted on the ground) makes this a very safe rotational exercise to attempt, as long as core stability is maintained throughout the movement (no swaying, swinging, or any other manner of jerking the body through the twisting portion of the movement). Performed in a slow and controlled manner a pullup variation like this will lead to significant increases in rotational core strength in short order. So the next time you set out to do any exercise, ask yourself: how would Chubby Checker advise me to do this? Then go ahead and do it with a twist!