Depending on your preconceived definition of what rotary stability entails, you might be wondering what Bulgarian split squats have to do with rotary stability.

Rotary stability is the body’s ability to resist undesired movement in the axial twist axis. Technically, all of the body’s major joints require stability to resist torsion, but the major players are definitely the hips and spine.

Initially, most beginners possess the leg strength necessary to perform a Bulgarian split squat, however they often lack hip stability in the frontal (side to side) and transverse (rotary) planes.

If the hip stabilizers are weak or don’t fire in synchronicity, the prime movers (quads, glute max, hamstrings) won’t receive an adequate training stimulus until the hip stabilizers (adductors, glute med and min, TFL, upper glute max, hip rotators, etc.) are sufficiently strong and coordinated.

Standing on one leg isn’t problematic for most people as the task isn’t very challenging for the hip rotary stability mechanism. However, as people squat down on one leg and sink deeper into hip flexion (think single leg box squat or pistol squat), issues with hip rotary stability tend to rear their ugly heads.

This is why full range single leg quad dominant and hip dominant movement patterns should be considered rotary stability exercises – they challenge the body’s ability to remain stable under dynamic hip flexion and extension.

A common analogy used in strength & conditioning is that you can’t fire a canon out of a canoe. Let’s delve deeper into this analogy. I’m pretty sure you could fire a canon out of a canoe, but the canoe would be destroyed and the cannonball wouldn’t be propelled with as much accuracy or explosiveness. This brings me to my next point.

The Benefits of Increased Stability

A body in balance is a body that will stand the test of time, and many lifters display imbalances by showing disproportionately low levels of rotary stability in comparison to axial stability. Why is rotary stability so important?

  • It will assist in transmitting rotational forces efficiently, thereby eliminating energy leaks that slow you down.
  • It will increase eccentric, isometric, and concentric rotary power which is needed in sprinting, throwing, swinging, kicking, and striking.
  • It will prevent certain joints form incurring torsional stresses, which can wreak havoc on soft tissue and lead to pain or injury.

Now I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t like doing wimpy stuff. I love to move some serious weight. For this reason, performing the big basic bilateral sagittal plane lifts such as squats, deadlifts, bench press, and chin-ups are paramount. These lifts are the most popular strength training exercises for great reason – they work!

But if you only do these lifts, problems are bound to arise because you won’t possess optimal levels of rotational strength and stability due to the fact that these lifts don’t present sufficient rotary challenges for the core.