I often see that people have trouble making a distinction between internal/external rotation and internal/external torque (IT/ET). Torque refers to tension and internal/external refers to how that tension is created. For example when you are screwing your feet into the ground by “splitting” the floor with your heels aiming to get closer to each other while your big toes aim to move away from each other (without actually moving) you are creating external torque. When you do this you will notice the torque, the tension starts at the hips. You will feel the outside of your hamstrings engage, all the way to your Glute Med and even Lumbar Erectors. Now can you create external torque while your knees are close to each other other, or even in a Valgus knees position? Absolutely. It might not be the most efficient position to create external torque but it is absolutely feasible. The same goes for internal torque: split the floor with your heels aiming to move away from each other (without actually moving). You will feel the inside head of your hamstrings firing. It might be a bit difficult at first to feel that inside head fully contract as most people have often undertrained that particular muscle group but you’ll get there eventually.
That is the fundamental difference between rotation and torque. Rotation is just joint positioning and is inherently different for everybody on any exercise (femur length, etc). It is a What, a method, part of Supervised Learning. In any joint position you can create internal or external torque. Torque is a How. It defines which tension you are creating and ultimately it is what matters most. It will define movement patterns (correct or incorrect), explosiveness to isometric, all the way to the Nervous Systems.
Engaging Internal Torque Chain
Movement: External Oblique Opener
Why do we do the movement?
The external oblique opener is for increasing mobility in internal torque in the main arch. Engagement is established for creating internal torque awareness in the Transverse Abdominus, Obliques (Internal and External), Lower Abdominals, Pec Major, Deltoid (Front) and Bicep (Short Head).
Remember, mobility is range of motion while maintaining proper torque. The point here is to work on mobility in internal torque and NOT external torque. We want the athlete to know how to distinguish between internal and external torque chains.
Awareness: Internal Torque Chain
Main Focus is to establish awareness in the Main Arch (Main Arch)
- Obliques (internal and external)
- Transverse Abdominus
- Lower Abdominals
- Gluteus Maximus
- Spinal Erectors
Coaching and setup/position
- Lay on back on the floor
- Lumbar against the floor (no arching of lower back)
- Entire body spread out on the floor with feet together
- Kettle bell placed below the naval.
- Rib Cage tucked towards pelvis.
- Hands on the handles of the Kettlebell with open hands pressing inward.
- Inhale and expand lower abdominals allowing your stomach to press outward against the kettlebell.
- Expand lower abdominals until kettlebell raises.
- Establish awareness in the Obliques (Internal and external), Transverse Obliques and Lower Abdominals.
- Keep constant tension through transverse abdominals, obliques and lower abdominals.
In order to have true mobility, these muscles must have constant tension through range of motion and position.
- Inhale thru nose
- Exhale thru mouth
We are looking for a constant flow of breathing while maintaining mobility (tension through the entire range of motion).
What’s the Feeling?
The athlete should feel lower abdominals raise and constant tension throughout lower abdominals. The athlete should feel tremendous pressure created within the abdominals.
Things to watch for as an athlete and coach?
Expansion of the rib cage, displacement of tension from obliques to rectus abdominus Irregular breathing. Not maintaining the main arch throughout the movement.
Credit: Tyler Reiter