Most people use the gym to perform a lot on the same basic bilateral movements. “Bilateral” movement is performed with the body squared up using both arms and legs at the same time. Think bench press, pull up and squats. However, there are virtually almost no actual challenges in daily life or sport that are bilateral in nature. Real life requires extensive lateral and rotational movement.
Training lateral and rotational exercises in the gym can improve safety and strength in daily movements and is critical for transference to torso stability, gait, jumping, running, climbing stairs, getting into your car, throwing a ball, picking up a child, and so on for every functional movement situation. Therefore you should consider integrating rotational and lateral based exercises into your program to get the most benefit from your time spent working out.
These exercise choices can also better prepare the body for more functional and even survival scenarios like shoveling snow, carrying someone to safety, climbing out of a dangerous situation or many, many other scenarios that life presents which we are not prepared for if we only do squats and presses.
Here is a list of performance and general activity pluses from rotational exercises:
Global Core Functionality: The core is technically defined as everything that stabilizes the spine, shoulder girdle and hip complex not just spinal stability. Rotational exercises are far superior to challenge and strengthen this stacked complex of gyroscopic elements than basic exercises focused just on pumping actions. The human body is capable of deep, dynamic rotational ranges and requires them as ongoing challenges to stay healthy and effective.
Hip mobility: Rotational movements also help open-up and strengthen the dynamic hip muscle complex which tightens after training in restricted/bi-lateral planes of motion or weakens from the lack of challenge found with hinge-only exercises.
Low back health: Rotational exercises strengthen your low back which helps prevent lower back issues in the future. This is because the fascia, particularly the thoraco-lumbar fascia is only developmentally challenged by full ROM rotations, ambulation and contralateral movements.
Reduce chance of injury: Rotational exercises of the torso and hips can reduce a chance of injury when you are pulling, lifting and pushing in real life. It is because a strong muscle, fascia and connective tissue collective working together is less likely to result in body injury than a group of loosely connected, over strong muscle pumps.
Improved Performance in Sports: Strong rotational abilities and strength can benefit your ability to perform better in sports which all include dynamic rotation to succeed and stay healthy. Examples of rotation based sports are golfing, volleyball, basketball, football, baseball, skiing, snowboarding, tennis – oh yeah, all sports! Again, bilateral muscle pumpers do not address these needs which leaves results up to genetics.
Scoliosis benefits: Scoliosis is a medical condition in which the spine curves between 10 and 45 degrees, with some cases even more. Orthopedics studies showed that performing torso rotation exercises can stop the curve from getting worse and in some cases also correct spinal curvature. It is because the isolated strengthening of the muscles that rotate the torso improves the weaker side and when we toss in the right lateral flexion exercises we also adjust the Quadratus Lumborum one of the root causes of Scoliosis.