Anti-Lateral Flexion Core Exercises

We've gone over two core exercises in previous blogs.  Deadbugs, which are mainly an anti-extension exercise that targets our 6-pack and obliques, and the Pallof Press, which we use to develop our anti-rotation strength and stability.

Today, I'll walk you through a few exercises that help us develop our capacity for resisting lateral flexion, or side-bending.

Exercise 1: SA Suitcase Carry

  • Key Points: The kettlebell will be held at one side and you'll maintain a perfectly upright posture, not allowing the weight of the bell to pull you into side-bending.  You'll keep the tension in your core, maintaining perfect posture while walking about 20-30 yards.
  • To Progress: Add weight to increase the difficulty.
  • To Regress: Take out the walking component and perform a static hold with the weight in one hand.  You can increase the difficulty by increasing the weight.

Exercise 2: Side Plank

  • Key Points: Keep your shoulder engaged by pressing the ground away with your bottom elbow and staying as long as you can from elbow to top shoulder.  Keep your hips pushed forward by squeezing your glutes and maintain a double-chin to keep your head in line.  Maintain a straight line from the top of your head to the your feet.
  • To Progress: Add weight, movement, or elevate your feet in order to increase the difficulty.
  • To Regress: Perform a short-lever side plank from your knees (video below), elevate your elbow on a bench, or do both in order to decrease the difficulty of the exercise and make it more manageable.

Exercise 3: Anti-Lateral Flexion Pallof Press

  • Key Points: This exercise will help develop your ability to resist lateral flexion and increase your shoulder stability at the same time.  Begin in an athletic position with your hips and knees slightly bent, holding onto a band or cable that is attached to a beam at your side.  Press the band or cable up overhead, maintaining a straight line from head to pelvis, and a rigid core to resist the band's lateral pull.
  • To Progress: Step further away from the point of attachment or use a stronger band in order to decrease the difficulty.  You can also mess around with your stance to change the stability requirements.
  • To Regress: Step closer to the point of attachment or use a weaker band to make the exercise more manageable.

Exercise 4: Off-Set Deadlift

  • Key Points: This exercise is very hard and it's a ton of fun.  If you really want to develop strength in resisting lateral flexion this exercise is a great choice.  You're essentially performing a deadlift with weight on one side of the bar.  Be sure to maintain a neutral spine, hinge at the hips, and use your posterior chain to lift the weight.  Don't let the off-set load cause you to bend laterally.
  • To Progress: Add more weight or pull from a deficit!
  • To Regress: Elevate the bar slightly to decrease the range-of-motion, or spend more time developing lateral strength and stability using the exercises detailed above!

Throw a few of these exercises in your next program, focus on maintaining a steady progression, and soon you'll have abs like the gentlemen in the picture below!