Rotational Core Strengthening Exercises for Judo

Your core muscles involve not only your abdominal muscles, but also your lower back, pelvic floor and hip muscles. Your core strength needs to be included in your weekly strength and conditioning program because your core muscles are used in nearly every single aspect of Judo. Training your core is usually associated with sit ups, crunches and the plank but in order to more specific for Judo you must include only exercises that ‘rotate’ the trunk of the body. Whenever you attempt to throw your opponent you are never performing a movement like a crunch, you are rotating your opponent around. Therefore your core training should involve exercises that I like to call ‘rotational core.”

Rotational core exercises are important for Judo but so is upper body strength. Therefore you if can include rotational core and the upper body you are in for a winner when it comes to training your core for Judo.

Exercises that include your upper body and rotational core include:


Starting with the medicine ball at your right hip bring the ball up past your head in a ‘wood-chopper’ motion.

Wood-chopper Tips:

– Keep your arms slightly bent through the entire movement

– This is a great exercise to warm up your arms and shoulders

– I recommend using a ball 4-6kg.

Hanging leg raises:

– Hang from a chin up bar

– You can either have your hands facing away or towards you

– Contract your abdominals and raise your straight legs up as high as you can

– Lower and repeat

– Inhale when lowering and exhale when lifting your knees

Hanging Leg raise tips:

– If you contract you abdominals before you raise your knees it will assist you in not swinging

– If you cannot hang off the bar your fitness facility may have a harness that allows you to rest on your elbows

– You may also use a roman chair to perform this exercise

– If you have had shoulder injuries I suggest you replace this exercise

Cable Twists:

– Clasp a handle with outstretched arms

– Keep a slight bend in your elbows

– Using your core muscles rotate from the right to the left

– Once you reach your limit in terms of rotation, slowly return to the starting position

– Repeat

Cable twist tips:

– Really try to use your core muscles opposed to your arms

– Don’t use too much weight as this may force you to use your arms opposed to core

– You may also use a Theraband to perform this exercise

Barbell rotations:

– Place a barbell in a corner with a heavy dumbbell on top of it

– Hold the barbell at the end

– With arms slightly bent rotate your body to the left

– Be sure to turn your feet and hips as well

– Contract your abdominals and turn to the opposite side

– Repeat for desired number of reps

Barbell rotation tips:

– Concentrate on using your abdominals, not your arms, when performing this exercise.

– This exercise is rather hard and due to the fact that a barbell is already 20 kilograms you should not have to add much more weight

Push up twists:

– Assume a pushup position

– Bring your shoulder blades together

– Contact your abdominals as you slowly begin to raise one hand above your head

– Maintain balance

– Look at where your hand is travelling as you slowly reach the top of the movement

– Return the hand to the starting position and repeat on the opposite side

Push up twist tips:

– Go slow – this exercise is a slow and control exercise.

– For added difficulty you may place your supporting hand on an unstable surface such as a Dura disc or pillow

Remember in order to train your core for Judo you must be using ‘rotational core’ movements besides a crunch or traditional leg raise.