A FUN WAY TO “RAISE THE BAR” ON 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.
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