Anti-rotation core exercises are some of the toughest “anti-core” work you can do. Developing the strength to do these moves correctly will help you look stronger and say buh-bye to love handles, all while increasing your badassery. Don’t worry though, there’s a way to do these anti-rotation core exercises even if you haven’t worked out in ages. Give them a try with whichever modification suits you and get the core you’ve dreamed of.
What is Anti-Core Work?
If you’re just joining me in this anti-core series, let’s back up and briefly discuss what “anti-core” means. It’s training your abs to resist certain movements. This helps to develop your entire core, vs. just zeroing in on one muscle and movement. It’s incredibly functional, and functional training is such a sexy buzzword right now.
Your core and abs resist movements all day long, and by training them in this way you’ll have better posture, increase your ability to protect your spine, and you’ll notice a flatter, stronger core vs. results you’d get from things like side bends and sit-ups.
Benefits of Anti-Rotation Core Exercises
“Anti-rotation” core work is when you’re resisting twisting to one side by maintaining a stable core position. It helps muscles strengthen and stabilize by placing asymmetrical and unbalanced forces on your body. Anti-rotation core exercises work your deep core and obliques, and will transfer over into daily life better than exercises like Mason Twists. Rotational ab work is still beneficial, but you’ll want to make sure you’re including these challenging anti-rotation exercises into your workouts as well!
If you’re just joining, don’t forget to check out the features on
to make sure you’re working all aspects of your core!
12 Anti-Rotation Exercises for a Strong and Flat Core
Plank with Shoulder Taps
In this humbling exercise, you’re in plank position, either on your forearms or your arms extended. Without letting your hips twist and keeping them pointed at the floor, shift your weight to one hand while bringing the other over to touch your opposite shoulder. Return and repeat on the other side. If your hips are rotating, bring your feet out wider!
You can also do these on an elevated surface to make them a little easier. To keep good plank form, press your hands into the floor at all times, keep your core engaged, and squeeze your butt tight! Slow these down to really feel the burn.
Also, basically any plank where you’re lifting up one leg or arm will be considered anti-rotational!
Dumbbell Dead Bugs
I love all things dead bugs, and all variations are amazing core exercises! For this one, you’ll hold a heavy-ish weight with your arm locked out, in line with your shoulder, shoulder “packed” into its pocket. Pulling your belly button toward your spine and trying to pull your lower back into the floor, lower your opposite arm and leg. Let them hover over the ground for a second, and then return to the start.
The added challenge with the weight is that you cannot let your torso twist or rotate to compensate for holding a heavy weight on one side. Whew! Brace your core like someone’s about to punch you in the stomach before each rep. Don’t forget to repeat on the opposite side.
You can do these with lots of lower body exercises, like flutter kicks, scissor kicks, leg raises, etc. Give them a try!
The pallof press has a cult following, and for good reason. You can do these on a cable machine or with a band at home. Stand facing to the right or left of the machine or where your band is connected to about the height of your sternum, and stand just slightly behind the connection point.
Stand up tall, feet shoulder-width apart, glutes squeezed, and shoulders back. Holding the handle with both hands at your chest, press it out slowly, until your arms are straight in front of you. Pause, not allowing your torso to twist, and return to the start. Stand far enough away that it’s challenging but that you can still keep your belly button facing forward.
You can do this standing, kneeling, half-kneeling, or with a split lunge stance, as you’ll see demonstrated. Those are listed in order from easiest to hardest.
Glute Bridge with Knee Extension
Now we’re getting into some combo moves that challenge your core in anti-rotation. The glute bridge will also work your hamstrings, booty, and lower back!
Lying flat on the ground, bring your heels close to your butt. Tuck your hips under, squeeze your glutes, and press your feet into the floor to come into a bridge. Keeping your core and glutes tight, shift your weight to one foot while extending the other at your knee, alternating. Don’t allow your hips to rock!
You can make these easier by having your hands on the floor to support you. If you can’t hold the bridge you can go down in between each rep.
Single Arm Chest Press
This is an awesome combo move to strengthen your chest and your core! Lie on the ground (or a bench) with a dumbbell in one hand, positioned just above your chest and shoulder. Press it up until your arm is extended, keeping your core tight so you don’t rotate to one side, and lower back down.
Make these more challenging by performing them while holding a bridge. Really test your core strength by doing them in a single leg bridge, holding the weight opposite your bridging leg!
Single Arm Band Press
Similar to the chest press is a Single Arm Band Press. Same idea, although you’ll have the pull of the band or cable machine to fight against. Stand in a split stance with your core and glutes tight, the handle by your armpit. The band or cable should be about chest height, although higher or lower can work different parts of your muscles. Keeping your hips facing forward, press the band out without twisting or throwing your shoulder forward.
I like to check in with my hips and shoulder when needed during this one to make sure I’m not cheating.
Single Arm Band Row
The form of the single arm band row is similar to the chest press, although you’re facing the band or cable machine. Set it up so it’s about shoulder height, assume your split stance, and extend your arm holding the handle. Try to keep your shoulder blade “packed in place” and not let it come forward as it’s extended.
Pull the handle back toward your chest, pause, and return to the start. As you pull, keep your core tight and don’t allow your hips or torso to twist!
You can also do these on your knees, one knee, or a split lunge stance. Make it harder by increasing the resistance.
Plank Dumbbell Rows / Renegade Rows
Well these sure exposed my weaknesses! This challenging exercise works your whole body, and focusing on the anti-rotational aspect of it will help you keep good form and really strengthen your core!
Get into plank position with dumbbells in each hand. Press into your dumbbells, squeeze your core and glutes tight, and shift your weight to one hand. Row your opposite dumbbell up towards your back, so your dumbbell is near your chest and your elbow is close to your body. Slowly lower back down and repeat on the other side. The tricky part is to keep your hips and core from rotating as you shift your weight and begin to row. Squeezing your glutes will help!
If you’re rocking a lot, widen your feet. You can also do these one arm at a time if planking onto the dumbbells is painful. If these don’t work for you, try them without any weight, or try the 3 point rows.
3 Point Dumbbell Rows
These are similar to the Renegade Rows, except you are only holding a dumbbell in one hand, and your other hand is on an elevated surface holding you in plank position.
Squeeze your glutes and core, and widen your feet as much as needed to prevent your hips from rocking with each row. Using your back muscles, row your dumbbell up to your chest, keeping your elbow close to your side, and slowly lower it. Try to keep your shoulder blade packed in place, and don’t let your arm drop down too low at each row.
Slow these down to make them harder!
Oh hey we just saw these in the anti-extension post! I see new clients wobble a lot as they perform their bird dogs, and it’s usually because they are fighting that rotational pull.
Start with your hands directly under your shoulders, knees under hips. Take a breath in and brace your core like someone’s about to punch you in your stomach, and do this before each rep. Extend your opposite arm and leg, trying to stop when they are aligned with your torso. Pause, lower back down, and repeat on the other side. The goals are to prevent your lower back from arching, and to keep your hips facing the ground at all times (aka: fight rotation).
Bird dogs will improve your stability and strengthen your spinal erector muscles that help improve posture! God bless the bird dog.
Bodyweight Single Leg Deadlift
This exercise always keeps me honest. I’m in PT for my hip right now and these make me realize how I’ve been compensating for my injury on leg day. Oof. I love them though, and you will too!
Stand up tall with your core and butt squeezed, and shift your weight to one leg. I like to keep my hands on my hips to keep me honest, but as you progress, you can extend them over your head as you perform your deadlift. Keeping your front knee slightly bent, tilt your torso forward while raising your back leg behind you, keeping it straight. Pull yourself back to the starting position with your hamstrings and glutes of your standing leg.
Think about keeping your lifted foot pointed at the floor. Your hip and torso on that side will want to rotate, and this will really challenge your stability and strength!
Offset Leg Exercises
When you perform an offset exercise, you’re holding weight on only one side, which challenges your core to keep you from rotating. Here I’m demonstrating an offset dumbbell deadlift and an offset single leg deadlift. You could also include offset squats, walking lunges, etc into your workout routine to challenge your core with anti-rotation movements while strengthening your legs!
Whatever lower body offset exercise you choose, keep your core braced like someone is about to punch you in the stomach. Work hard to avoid rotation!
How to Add These Anti-Rotational Core Exercises Into Your Workouts
Chances are, you’re already doing a few of these exercises. So, depending on your current workout routine, add a few more in. Switch up a leg exercise for an offset leg exercise, add the bodyweight single leg deadlifts into your warm ups, etc. Since there are three main types of anti-core exercises (anti-lateral flexion, anti-extension, and anti-rotation) you could focus on one each workout if you exercise three days per week.
To figure out your time, reps, and sets, you’ll have to play around a bit. Find what’s challenging to you but where you can keep good form. Stop or drop to an easier modification once your form breaks, and note how many reps or how long you were able to go before that happened, and plan from there. A good general starting point could be 2 sets of 30 seconds of each exercise (each direction), and adjust from there.
Also, I don’t believe having the abs of your dreams will make you happy unless you’re taking good care of yourself. Read more on that here.
Lastly, anti-rotational core work is awesome for postpartum women, however, not the exercises in plank or pushup position. If you want to know more, check out this post.
**Try at your own risk! Of course, check with your doctor before starting any exercise program- especially if you have a medical condition, injury, or are pregnant. If you have blood pressure issues, don’t get above an 8 on the RPE scale. The Fit Tutor is not responsible for any injuries.