Combining Moves Without a Twist

By Diane Vives – September 3, 2013

It is very rare in nature to find muscles that are vertical; the majority of muscles throughout the body either have a horizontal or diagonal orientation. This means that our functional, global movements are either resisting rotation in order to stabilize joints or engaging rotation to create natural, whole motions. When you watch someone run forward in a straight line, you can see the diagonal lines in her shirt due to the cross pattern and rotation occurring during energy transfer between the shoulder and opposite hip. It’s important to also point out that the same muscles that create this natural rotation also resist rotation in order to stabilize and protect the spine from unwanted motion (such as a collapse of the tall posture) or exaggerated movements (due to lack of control through a movement pattern). Many times, this stabilizing and protecting of the spine is referred to as “core stability.” This is why an important training strategy is to first establish rotary stability and then target dynamic rotational movements.

A great way to safely challenge rotary stability is to asymmetrically (or unilaterally) load the body to create the challenge of resisting rotation and engage the muscles that are responsible for this important job. Holding a weight on one side of the body—or, in this case, using band resistance that pulls against the body on either the right or left side—creates this type of asymmetrical load. Just as in other motions, the body doesn’t work in isolated, small movements when, for example, running, throwing, or swinging a golf club. Sports movements (and many whole movement patterns) alternate between stability and dynamic movement in the upper and lower body. That is why these functional movement combinations are a great way to condition the body, which increases fitness carryover into sports and fitness activities as well as reduction of the risk of injury.

1) Lunge with Chest Press – TRX Rip Trainer
Purpose: Loading one side of the body during a lower body and upper body combination increases the rotary stabilization demands in the core and major joints.

• Start with a shoulder-width stance and hold the Rip Trainer bar horizontally, just in front of the chest.
• Maintaining an upright torso, lunge forward. Make sure the Rip Trainer remains in position during the lower body movement.
• Once the lunge position is set and the lower body movement is complete, perform a chest press by pressing both hands out equally while maintaining the horizontal position of the bar.
• Note: Resist the rotational pull of the Rip Trainer on one side, and always keep the shoulders facing forward.
• Press through the heel of the front foot to return to a standing position and bring the bar of the Rip Trainer back to start position.
Tweak Down: Hold the bar of the Rip Trainer in place in front of chest and focus on lunge movement without performing a chest press.
Tweak Up: Using smooth, controlled movements, simultaneously lunge and perform chest press.

2) Push-Up to Knee Tuck – TRX Suspension Straps
Purpose: Independently suspending the feet while combining movements that alternate stability and dynamic movement between the upper and lower body create rotary stability challenge.

• Start with both feet in the straps in a push-up position with hands directly under the shoulders and the back in a neutral, flat position. • • Shoulders and hips should be level to the ground.
• Perform a push-up while keeping the shoulders and hips horizontal to the ground and maintaining alignment through the shoulders, hips, and ankles.
• Once the push-up is complete, perform a knee tuck by pulling the knees underneath the hips. Keep the back as flat as possible during the knee tuck.
• Return to the starting position by extending the lower body in one smooth, controlled motion.
Tweak Down: Hold the plank position and perform the knee tuck. This eliminates the push-up and focuses on upper body and core stability.
Tweak Up: Perform the push-up followed by a single leg knee tuck. Alternate on each side between each push-up.

3) Squat to High Row – TRX Rip Trainer
Purpose: Increase rotary stability by performing a loaded lower body movement followed by an upper body movement that is also unilaterally loaded.

• Start with feet shoulder-width apart and with the arms extended in front of the mid torso while holding the Rip Trainer bar horizontally.
• Sit back into the squat position while maintaining alignment of the ankle, knee, and hips.
• Note: The upper body should remain stable with the Rip Trainer held in place during the squat movement.
• Once the squat is complete, perform a high row on the loaded side of the Rip Trainer by pulling the elbow up and back.
• Note: The cord of the Rip Trainer should stay in line with the forearm while performing the high row.
• Return the bar back to the original start position by extending the arm and standing in an upright position.
Tweak Down: Begin by performing the squat in a single set, then rest. Perform the high row in a separate set after the rest period.
Tweak Up: Perform the high row at the same time as you extend the lower body to return to a standing position. Perform this combination as fast as you can while maintaining proper alignment and using smooth, controlled motions.

Watch the video above to see the fourth exercise.

These are just three examples of how to challenge rotary stability through use of suspension straps or unilateral loading on one side of the body. We also combined rotary stability demand (the squat) with a loaded rotational motion (upper body) in the third exercise. All of these movement patterns use combinations of movements to incorporate a high workload by engaging the entire body, creating an efficient way to stay purpose-driven with your exercises while increasing the energy expenditure in a short amount of time.

Check out the bonus exercise online at; use all four motions to create a challenging circuit that will transfer rotational stability and movement to your favorite sports and fitness activities for great results.

What is a TRX Rip Trainer?
It's a portable exercise system made up of a lever bar with a resistance cord attached at one end. The cord is anchored around a pole, post, or tree; it can also be attached to a doorway with a clip (included in kit). Exercises are done while holding the bar. The device packs up so that it is small enough to be carried in a suitcase. $190

Special thank you to FIT Austin for hosting us.


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