Next up in my “Exercises You Should Be Doing” series is the Pallof Press. When done correctly, you’ll quickly see why this exercise is an ideal way to train the core area of the body.
What makes this movement one of the very best core strengthening exercises is that, unlike the typical crunches and leg raise type movements, the Pallof Press trains your core based on its true primary function — which is to act as a stabilizer rather than a primary mover.
If you look at most traditional abdominal or core exercises (sit-ups, crunches, etc.), they treat the core as a mover when, in fact, it is designed to serve as a stabilizer that integrates the upper body with the lower body. A well-conditioned core plays a vital role in performance and injury prevention.
Named after physical therapist John Pallof, the Pallof Press is also one of the more user-friendly exercises out there today and allows for regressions (to make it easier) and progressions to challenge the more advanced exerciser.
How To Do a Pallof Press:
The Pallof Press can be done using a traditional cable column with a single handle, with a looped resistance band (as pictured), or with rubber tubing.
- Adjust the cable or attach the band so that it will be level with your chest
- Grasp the handle or band with both hands and pull the cable or band out and stand with your side toward the weight stack or band attachment point.
- Get into an “athletic stance” with feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, a slight bend in the knees and chest out.
- Press the cable or band straight out in front of the chest.
- Tighten your abdominal area and hold the cable or band steady in front of you.
- Hold for 5-7 seconds and slowly release the cable or band bringing it back to the chest- that’s 1 rep.
- Perform 10 reps and repeat on the other side
- Shoot for 2-3 sets per side to start.
Here are a few key points to focus on when performing the Pallof Press:
- The narrower your stance is, the harder the exercise becomes
- Don’t rush to increase the weight or resistance used, instead tweak the movement by closing-up your stance, going into a tall kneeling position, a ½ kneeling position or a split stance
- Do not let your body sway back and forth…you are in control!
- Breathe out as you extend your arms away from the chest
- Brace your abs as though you’re going to get punched in the stomach
- Squeeze your glutes
- Keep a tall upper body with chest out and shoulders back
About the writer: Ken Grall is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and owns and operates an Edge Fitness in Madison, Wisconsin. Learn more about Ken.