I love twisting exercises such as Cable Twists, Lunge Twists, and Twist Push-ups. The initial assumpting with doing exercises such as these, is you are getting a core workout. However, recently I was reminded by a trusted physical therapist that a twist is not necessarily a core exercise.
This came to light with a review of the Brazilian Crunch exercise. If you see the video you notice how the women twists her hips and torso as she brings her knee and leg up to the side. We do Brazilian Crunches just like this quite a bit at Kemme Fitness. This trusted (and intelligent) physical therapist still likes Brazilian Crunches, but had to tweek it to make it more of a core exercise. Instead of rotating your upper body, he suggested that once you bring your knee up in the tuck position, to rotate your lower leg by bringing your foot to the inside and pushing it up towards your opposite arm. Your knee stays in a straight line with your body. Clear as mud?
Ok, let’s try it this way. Picture being in the Push-up posittion, then start doing a knee tuck with one leg. As you come forward, then try and touch your toes to the opposite elbow by twisting your leg, not your torso. This will engage your core, whereas, the other version (as seen in the video)…well, not so much.
So what then? Does the older version of a Brazilian Crunch become worthless? How many other twisting exercises are not great at activating core stabilizing muscles? I asked myself these questions for a while.
Finally I settled on this. Although being Core-centered is 1 of the 4 Dimensions of Functional Fitness (see here), it does not mean every exercise in a Functional Fitness program has to activate your core. It is the overall workout that counts. Besides, twisting is something we do in life and so practicing various twisting motions is part of functional training and therefore welcome and valuable in a Functional Fitness program. Remember we are training movements we use in daily life to be able to them more effeciently, effectively, and safely.
Therefore I say, keep the twisting. Just know that you may not be “working your core” with that one particular exercise – and that is ok.