Stroops – Asymmetrical Bar Training


Asymmetrical bar training (ABT) is a relatively new method of training that can enhance balance while improving core strength and rotational power. Essentially, ABT uses a rigid bar with resistance on only one end to create an unbalanced load to the exercise. This triggers the body’s natural tendency to counterbalance (“anti-rotate”) the force resulting in an increased challenge on the core muscles and spine stabilizers. Stuart McGill PhD who is a leading researcher on spine health related to exercise and sport performance states that “anti-rotation is a critical component for spine health and core performance.” Furthermore, ABT can be used to improve rotation force and creates a three dimensional movement throughout the body having a huge carryover into rotational sports like golf and baseball or even simple everyday activities like picking up your kids or doing yard work.

ABT can be used with a cable machine at the gym or more commonly, with resistance tubing. Exercises using movements like rotation, chopping, or even traditional exercises while stabilizing the bar from a variety of angles is a very effective way of adding another element to your fitness program. Begin with slower movements to build a solid foundation of balance and core strength. Once good control has been established, explosive and ballistic motions can be used for increasing power and improving conditioning.

Outlined below are three foundational exercises that will develop core strength, balance, power, and overall athleticism. Once you’ve mastered the basic movements, then add in the progressions for more challenge.

Chest Press:

Begin with your back facing the anchor point with the bar against your chest, making sure the resistance band in lined up with your right arm. Standing in a split stance with your left leg forward, engage your core muscles and press the bar away from you until your arms are both fully extended while keeping the bar at chest level. With control return the bar to the starting position and repeat the movement for 30 seconds then switch sides.

Progressions: Press from a neutral stance (feet hip width apart), add a forward step from neutral stance, add forward jump.

Stationary Lunge with Row:

Begin by facing the anchor point with the bar at chest level and your arms fully extended making sure the resistance band is lined up with your right arm. Standing in a split stance with your left leg forward, engage your core muscles, descend into your lunge and pull the bar toward you until it reaches your chest. With control return to the starting position and repeat the movement for 30 seconds then switch sides.

Progression: Add forward or backward movement to the lunge or try with a split jump

Low to High Chops (a.k.a. Slap Shots):

Begin in a split stance your left foot forward and your back facing the anchor point with the bar pointing towards the floor at approximately a 45 degree angle. Your right hand should be in an open (palms up) grip. Make sure the resistance band in lined up with your right arm and your hips are facing towards the bar.. Engage your core muscles and use your hips and arms to rotate the bar until your hips become square and the bar is parallel to the floor. With control return the bar to the starting position and repeat the movement for 30 seconds then switch sides.

Progression: Increase Speed and/or add in a shuffle

Places to find asymmetrical resistance bars:

Combination Training for Overall Fitness

At last the New Year is upon us!  It’s the opportunity we embrace every year to finally get back in shape.  While our ambition to make this year our best may be at a peak, the normal day to day grind still carries over into the New Year.  Many of us still have limited time due to work, family, and other obligations. And with so many areas of fitness to address it can be challenging to fit enough cardio, strength, flexibility, and core training in on a weekly basis.  Being efficient with our time at the gym is more important than ever.  The question is how?  By integrating it all into each workout session.  This workout style is also referred to as combination training.  The objective is to format the workout by using circuits that focus on each component in each training session. This style of workout is great because we end up spending less time in the gym while reaping all the same training benefits. Here is a breakdown on how to format an integrated training session.

Dynamic Warm Up

Dynamic warm up is the process of prepping the body for the demands of a workout. This is done by using active flexibility and movement patterns similar to the exercises that will be used during the workout.  Unlike traditional stretching, a dynamic warm up is performed by using opposing muscle groups and/or controlled momentum to take a joint/muscle through the full available range of motion.  This helps improve joint stability, increases body awareness, and helps raise the body’s core temperature, thereby decreasing risk of injury and improving workout performance.

Plyometric and Athletic Drills (Circuit 1)

Plyometric exercises include any movement that involve a rapid pre-stretch of a muscle and is immediately followed by a muscular contraction.  Examples of this would include throwing a medicine ball, jumping, or skipping.  These exercises are great for improving speed, strength, and the rate of muscle contractions.  Athletic drills are also included in this circuit.  They are similar to plyometrics with the exception that these drills are geared more towards locomotion.  The goal of athletic drills is to improve quickness, reaction time, and agility.  Athletic drills are challenging, fun, and a great way to improve cardiovascular fitness.  The plyometric and athletic drill circuit is usually done at the beginning of the workout. These exercises tend are the most demanding and are best performed earlier in the workout.

Balance and Strength (Circuit 2)

Balance enables a person to maintain their center of gravity during movement and in stationary positions. This can be the case during a sporting event or in simple day to day activities. Also, improving balance can help increase joint stability, improve posture, and help increase overall strength.  And best of all, balance exercises are easy to implement with traditional strength moves.  An overhead press can easily be performed on a stability ball, a single leg squat can replace a two legged squat.

For strength exercises you want to select exercises that challenge each of the primary movements of the human body.  This would include a pushing exercise, a pulling exercise, and a squat and/or lunge.  For added challenge and time-efficiency, multiple movements can be combined in one exercise.  An example would be a dumbbell squat with a bicep curl to an overhead press.

Core (Circuit 3) 

The core consists of all the muscles that connect into the lumbo-pelvic-hip complex.  In other words, all the muscles of the trunk and pelvis.  The core plays a major role in helping us maintain stability during functional movements and is a key component in reducing the risk of injury.  In general, core movements should consist primarily of rotation, extension, and isometric holds.  Movements that emphasize flexion movement similar to a crunch should be used in moderation.

Flexibility Cool down 

Cool down should consist of at least 5-10 minutes of static stretching and/or self-myofascial release (SMR).  Static stretching is the process of passively taking a muscle to the point of tension and holding the stretch for between 20-60 seconds. This will help reset the length of the muscles that were worked and help maintain and improve mobility.  SMR involves applying pressure to the muscle by using a bio-foam roller and can help eliminate adhesion/knot build up due to training.  Slowly roll along your muscles until a “tender point” is located. Rest on the tender point for 30-60 seconds or until there is a 75% reduction in pain felt.

Please refer to the sidebar for a sample workout and/or check out the video link for demonstrations of the following workout.

Jason Wanlass, the owner of Champion Fitness Training in Meridian, has more than 16 years experience in the fitness industry. Contact him at or


Integrated Strength & Conditioning Workout

Dynamic Warm up (1 set x 10 reps)

  • Leg Swings
  • MB Reverse Wood Chops
  • T-Rotations
  • Lunge w/twist
  • Cat/Cow Stretch

 Plyometric & Athletic Drills (2-3 Sets x 5-10 reps)

  • Squat Jumps
  • MB Chest Pass
  • Lateral Shuffle
  • Pro Agility Drill

 Strength & Balance (2-3 Sets x 12-20 reps)

  • Single Leg Squats
  • Split Lunge w/cable row
  • Pushups
  • TRX Rear Fly

 Core (2-3 Sets x 15-20 reps)

  • Standing Torso Rotations
  • Plank
  • Cobra


  • Hamstrings
  • Quads
  • Hip/Glute
  • Hip Flexors
  • Chest
  • Lats/Upper Back
  • Low Back


Got balance

There are numerous reasons to participate in a fitness program. For some of us it may be to lose a few pounds and have more energy, while others may simply want better overall health. As a result, most of us follow a program that consists of a combination of strength training and cardiovascular conditioning. And justifiably so! There are many physical benefits to both and they should be a major part of every fitness routine. However, one important area that often gets overlooked is balance. Balance enables a person to maintain their center of gravity during movement and in stationary positions. This can be the case during a sporting event or in simple day to day activities. Also, improving balance can help increase joint stability, improve posture, and increase overall strength. And even better, it’s easy to work into your existing routine! But before diving right in, there are three things we need to remember when training for better balance.

First, exercises should challenge your limit of stability. In other words, the distance outside of your base of support without losing control of your center of gravity. Second, is maintaining core engagement and postural control. Postural deviations are often exaggerated if the challenge is too demanding. At any point during the exercise if you cannot maintain good posture, core engagement, or control your base of support, modify to an easier option. Last, remember balance exercises require a slower speed of movement and should be executed with less weight. Besides going a little slower can tax the muscles effectively as well!

Here is a description of basic balance exercises and strength training moves with a balance component.

Single Leg Balance: Stand with tall posture and contract your core muscles. Slowly lift one leg 4-6 inches off of the ground while maintaining balance and posture. Balance for 1 minute and repeat on the opposite leg. For added challenge try it with a ½ foam roller, BOSU, or airex pad.

Lateral Hops: Begin by balancing on your right leg. Stand with tall posture with your right knee and hip slightly flexed. Engage your core muscles and hop sideways towards your left leg. Focus on landing softly and sinking into the landing by flexing your knee and hip. The goal is to hop from side to side without losing balance. Remember to stay within a distance that you can control and pause with each landing for at least 2 seconds. Perform 10 reps each direction.

Reverse Lunge with Balance: Begin by balancing on your right leg with your left leg elevated about 4-6 inches off of the ground. Step back with your left leg and slowly lower your hips towards the floor by flexing at your knees and hips. Maintain tall posture and lower your body until your right thigh is about parallel to the floor. Return to the starting position by extending your right hip and knee and slowly raising the left leg back into the balance position. Repeat for 10-15 reps before switching sides.

Stability Ball Chest Press: Begin by lying on a stability ball while holding a pair of dumbbells. Keep your head, neck, and shoulders in alignment with the rest of your body. With your knees bent at 90 degrees, slowly raise your hips until they are parallel to the floor. Now fully extend your arms above your chest, shoulder width apart, with your palms facing towards your legs. Slowly lower the dumbbells to either side of your body until the the dumbbells are to about chest level with your arms bent at 90 degrees. Return your arms to the starting position and repeat for 10-15 repetitions. If you are uncomfortable balancing on a stability ball, modify the exercise by using a BOSU trainer.

Single Leg Bicep Curl/Shoulder Press Combo: Begin by balancing on your right leg, standing with tall posture and holding a pair of dumbbells. With your palms facing in, perform a bicep curl by flexing at your elbows. Now, slowly raise your arms overhead by extending while maintain balance. Slowly lower your arms back into the starting position by reversing the movement. Repeat for 10 repetitions and switch legs. If more challenge is desired, try performing the exercise on a ½ foam roller, BOSU, or airex pad.

Get ready for the slopes before the snow hits

For many of us, that winter chill in the air can only mean one thing – ski and snowboard season is right around the corner.

While we eagerly wait for the first snowflake to hit, there is no better time to get ready physically.

Whether you’re a novice or an experienced rider, the first day on the mountain can often be a humbling experience, leaving your body sore and exhausted. In our haste for fresh powder, it’s easy to forget the vigorous demands a day on the slopes brings. Why not make this the year you prepare for it?

While a traditional strength and cardio conditioning program is important for any sport, a solid ski-conditioning program should focus on improving core strength, power, balance and reactive components as well.

In conjunction with your current fitness routine, add these exercises into the mix two to three times a week, and you’ll feel more like master of the mountain this season.

SINGLE LEG BALANCE:  Stand with tall posture and contract your core muscles.  Slowly lift one leg 4-6 inches of the ground while maintaining balance and posture.  Balance for 1 minute and repeat on the opposite leg.  For more challenge, try balancing on a BOSU.

BOSU MOGUL HOPS:   Hold onto a stable object. Stand on top of a BOSU with your feet together, pointing at 11 o’clock with your knees slightly flexed.  Contract your abdominals, hop and rotate your body to 1 o’clock, sinking your hips as you land.  Quickly hop back to 11 o’clock and repeat from the 11 to 1 position for 30-60 seconds.  For more challenge, perform the exercise with no hands without compromising control.

BENCH DIPS:  Position your body perpendicular to a flat bench.  Place your hands just outside your hips.  Lift your hips up and slightly away from the bench, maintaining tall posture.  Keep your heels on the ground and your legs straight.  Staying upright, slowly lower yourself toward the ground until both arms are bent at a 90 degree angle.  Push yourself back to an upright position.  Repeat for 10-15 repetitions.  For an easier option, bend your legs to a 90 degree angle and repeat the same movement.

BOX JUMPS: Stand slightly behind a 12- to 24-inch box or platform. Squat down, and quickly jump on top of the box. Try to land softly, sinking your hips as you land. Step off of the box and repeat for 10 to 15 repetitions. For an added challenge, jump continuously on and off of the box for the same number of repetitions.

SIDE PLANK: Lie on your side. Keep your body in a straight line with your legs stacked on top of one another. Prop your arm underneath your body. Position your opposite hand onto your hip. Contract your abs, and slowly lift your hips toward the ceiling until your body is positioned straight from head to toe. Hold for two to four seconds, and then slowly lower your hips to the floor. Repeat for 10 to 15 repetitions before switching sides. For an easier option, bend your legs at a 90-degree angle while performing the exercise.

ICE SKATERS: Stand and balance on your right leg with your core contracted. Hop sideways to your left side, squatting down and touching the ground across your body with your right arm. Stay low with your chest out, and quickly spring back to your right side repeating the same move, touching down with your left arm. With control, continue this sequence for 20 to 30 repetitions.

V-SIT w/MEDICINE BALL FIGURE 8’s:  Sit upright and recline a few inches while maintaining good posture.  Support your body weight on your sitting bones while keeping your chest out, shoulders back, and abdominals contracted.  Hold a 4-8 lbs. medicine ball in front of you, slowly move the ball in a figure 8 pattern while rotating your torso.  Repeat for 10 repetitions per side.

Jason Wanlass is the owner of Monster Personal Training & Athletic Conditioning in Meridian, has 15 years of experience in the fitness industry. Contact him at or