I follow the Starting Strength program. I like that is built around natural movement patterns. The deadlift for instance is really just picking something heavy up from the ground. This is both useful and "natural" in the sense that it is something we humans have done since the age of dawn.

In our modern society we rarely have to lift heavy objects, however it is useful to be able to do so. It is therefore important to practice as to not loose this ability. The squat movement as another example is something that comes natural to children, but that we may loose the ability to perform if we do not practice it.

These natural movement patterns is the result of evolution. We have evolved to being great at deadlifting heavy objects. I believe it is important for health to use the body the way evolution has intended it to.

There are however a few movement patterns that are missing from Starting Strength; the gait, the lunge and the twist. The twist is used to create rotational force and is very important in many sports. We use it in tennis, hockey, baseball, boxing, shotputting and javelin throwing to name a few. A good baseball batter for instance can create and transfer a tremendous amount of (rotational) force to the baseball.

As for the evolutionary motivation for us being good at creating rotational force; we may have used it to cut wood with axes, throw javelins for hunting or to punch or wield clubs to defend ourselves.

I am therefore looking for a rotational exercise that I can add to the Starting Strength program and practice in my local gym.

I think the ideal exercise would have been hitting a boxing or double end bag with a heavy baseball bat. Just throwing straight punches at a boxing bag may also work. However my gym does not have boxing bags or baseball bats. So far I am doing lateral medicine ball throws. I notice it is good exercise for the hips and think it will help with my thight and weak hips. However I feel it is missing a bit of rotation on the follow trough and therefore not ideal for the upper body.

  • 2
    If you can find a large tire, you could do sledgehammer work. That sounds most like what you’re asking for. Your obliques are your major rotational muscles though, a google search will pull up all sorts of options for oblique exercises. Dec 8, 2019 at 14:11
  • Wielding a club sounds like you got your education from cartoons. If you want an ancient workout, go running. That's what people actually did a lot
    – Raditz_35
    Dec 8, 2019 at 21:10
  • Did you not see the documentary series about the Flintstones ;-). I do go running. It is a good workout, but I think variety of motion is key to preserving health.
    – Andy
    Dec 9, 2019 at 7:48
  • I’m pretty sure Rippetoe implies that your “core” (he uses this term with a bit of disdain) includes your obliques and that they get plenty of isometric work during the squat and press. People seem to forget that when you move in a squat, the thing that keeps you from helicoptering are your obliques. Similarly, in a press, the very thing that keeps you from twisting with the bar are stable obliques. Hip drive builds rotational strength and if you’ve ever seen Rippetoe coach the squat, you can’t help but hear that thick Texan drawl say, “Hyippp Draaave,” at the bottom of the squat.
    – Frank
    Dec 25, 2019 at 22:08

5 Answers 5


You mentioned the lunge not being in Starting Strength, but Rippetoe has certainly spoken about it before. I forget the context and just skimmed through my books to no avail. But I believe his basic thought was "The only reason more men don't do lunges is because they see women doing them and think it's not a 'real' exercise. These men are wrong."

There's also (Chapter 7, Starting Strength) an entire section devoted to ancillary exercises. Following a progressive overloading routine like SS, SL5x5, Mad Cow, etc, it's pretty normal for folks to burn ~15-30 minutes doing some less destructive ancillary moves. In particular I found use in these which may relate your desire for a bit more asymmetrical and twisting motions.

Beyond those, you might consider bouldering. Climbing tends to put you into just about every type of directional force situation available. That's across static, strength, and dynamic movements.

Rippetoe's core thought process though is that there is so much work to be done and so many strength gains to be had via barbell training that straying too far off course will cause you to weaken accessory muscles needed for larger composite moves and ultimately will leave you worse off.

Rippetoe was and is a professional athletic trainer, focusing on US football which requires a lot of movement and pulling/pushing across a lot of range. I'd be wary of trying to outsmart him too much, or thinking that your needs are more than a high end collegiate defensive end.

Like the lunge, Rippetoe is all about them, but you can't do all-of-the-above in lifting programs because that leads to lower progress in any particular movement or overuse injuries.

  • Thank you! Yes maybe my logic is fundamentally flawed. According to Rippetoe "physical adaptations are not specific to a movement pattern". I assume this implies that not all movement patterns need be excercised since the same muscles can be exercised by other movements. I think boxers tend to favor the bulgarian split squat over the barbell squat. This may however be due to differences in muscle activation between the exercises (the bulgarian split squat being better for the hip muscles (flexors?) generating rotational power) and not trying to include another movement pattern.
    – Andy
    Dec 9, 2019 at 20:42
  • However I am having a hard time understanding how the obliques gets trained in the Starting Strength program since there are no rotational forces or movements?
    – Andy
    Dec 9, 2019 at 20:43
  • In fact Rippetoe takes his logic even further: startingstrength.com/article/…. Not only is it not necessary to perform the actual movement that you are trying to get stronger at; it may be detrimental. Specifically he mentions my swinging a heavy baseball bat idea as a bad idea :-). Swinging a heavy baseball bat does not make you stronger since the weight is too low. On the other hand it learns you to swing at a slower speed. So now you are as weak but slower!
    – Andy
    Dec 9, 2019 at 20:43

There are a lot of functional "caveman" type ways to use rotation if youre not wanting to use dumbbells or bands.

You can use clubs which are weighted differently and build balance. You can use maces, thor's hammer, or sledgehammers. These are cheap and you can buy them yourself for after the gym. You can also replicate a hammer by using a barbell or adjustable dumbbell with only one end with weights. Do not strike anything with these though. you only need to go through the motion to build rotation.. you are not working on your speed or power.

There are a lot of workouts online that involve chopping movements(acting as if you are chopping wood and squatting as you do so)(or reverse where you go from low to high), as well as spinning. rotating etc.. Dumbbells are great for the chopping exercises as you hold a dumbbell straight up as you do it.. but if this doesnt fit your 10,000 year old school method you can use hammers or clubs.

Swinging hammers(thors hammer, sledge hammer, war hammer) or a mace will replicate ancient ways of the body using a weapon to build rotational force. They all simulate hitting with rotation similar to a baseball bat. You do not actually need to strike an object to build rotation, just go through the motion. Clubs originated in India a very long time ago and are also a great tool. They are balanced as well and easy on the joints.

Also you can do bodyweight exercises.. such as hanging knee raises with rotating your legs to the side. Rock climbing would build your obliques as well.

  • Thank you! Clubs seems great for shoulder stability. I think I will give those a try. I am experiencing some discomfort in shoulders related to benchpressing.
    – Andy
    Dec 9, 2019 at 20:48
  • 1
    Sure! I had a shoulder injury so I do reverse grip bench press, or at the least retract my shoulders and keep my elbows above parallel that seems to relieve my shoulders. you can also clasp two weight plates together with your palms(25s?) and raise tour arms in front of your chest. you squeezing the weight to prevent you from dropping it is great for the chest too. Clubs are great for rotator cuff strength and its fun because you feel like a badass martial arts master when you use them
    – user32213
    Dec 10, 2019 at 15:50

The starting strength program is for beginners to learn the most important basic lifts. At a certain point though you need to start including rotational special exercises. For example just continuing to deadlift will not advance your deadlift past a certain point. Other important accessory exercises for the deadlift include glute-ham raises, good mornings, and hyper extensions. At the point when you are ready to do so I would highly recommend reading through some of what louie simmons has written about the conjugate method. Best of success


Answer: Half Kneeling Pallot Press.


My own conclusion on this is; the twist is not missing from Starting Strength since the same muscles are exercised by the other movements in the program.

However it is beneficial to practice the twist as well as lunges occasionally. Indian clubs or sledgehammers may help in developing strength around the shoulder which is good for stability. Likewise lunges may be good for stability around the knee.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.