Master The Pallof Press Exercises

Master The Pallof Press Exercises

The pallof press is a staple core and back strengthening exercise that you’ll find in many different settings. Whether its [P]Rehab, personal training sessions, group exercise classes, you name it, the pallof press is a common exercise for good reason. In this article, you will learn the value and reasoning behind the pallof press as well as different pallof press exercises.

What Is The Pallof Press

The pallof press is an anti-rotation exercise designed to work the muscles that influence trunk rotation. Specifically, the pallof press works local and global muscles in efforts to limit any rotation of the spine.

Take a look at the images above, did you know there were that many muscles in the trunk region?! You can also get an appreciation for the number of layers of muscle as well. So which ones are the local vs. global core muscles? How do they work with the pallof press?

Great question, in the photos above, you can see some of the local muscles including the multifidus, rotator muscles, and transverse abdominis. Not pictured are the pelvic floor muscles and depending on who you ask the diaphragm. Local core muscles are typically defined as muscles that cover small distances/segments and attach to the spine. The global muscles are often referred to as the rectus abdominis, erector spinae group, obliques, and even the lats. Global core muscles are typically defined as muscles that still contribute to stabilizing and controlling spine motion, but cover larger distances/segments and do not directly attach to the spine.

With the traditional pallof press, all of these muscles are working isometrically to limit spinal rotation, which limits trunk rotation. Being able to control trunk motion and improve something called passive core stiffness can have performance benefits for athletes as well as rehab benefits for some cases of back pain (not all). Below you will find videos of how to introduce and progress the pallof press including some fun and different pallof press exercises!

 

Where To Start?

Tall Kneeling Pallof Press Exercises

Tall kneeling is a great position to introduce the pallof press exercise. Taking the legs out of the equation limits any compensation from the lower body. You will also see anti-flexion and anti-extension variations in this video, which are also good when it comes to improving back and trunk strength and being able to control different types of motion.

 

Standing Pallof Press

Sample PrehabX Video

HOW: Get a band or cable anchored somewhere between waist and shoulder height. While standing perpendicular to the anchor and holding the handle with both hands, press your arms forward away from your chest until your elbows are fully straight. Hold that position for a moment while keeping your hips and shoulders square facing forward, then bring your arms in and repeat.

FEEL: You should feel your core and back muscles working as well as your arm muscles to maintain optimal position and form.

COMPENSATION: You should step away from the anchor until there is enough resistance that is challenging, but not too hard where you can’t maintain optimal form. Do not let the band rotate your upper body, keep your arms straight and hips facing forward. Try to avoid twisting your back.

 

Step Out To Pallof Press

Sample PrehabX Video

HOW: Get a band or cable anchored somewhere between waist and shoulder height. While standing perpendicular to the anchor and holding the handle with both hands close to your chest, step out to build tension in the band. Once there is enough tension, press your arms forward away from your chest until your elbows are fully straight. Hold that position for a moment while keeping your hips and shoulders square facing forward, then bring your arms in, step back in, and repeat.

FEEL: You should feel your core and back muscles working as well as your arm muscles to maintain optimal position and form. You may also feel your hip and thigh muscles working as well to maintain position.

COMPENSATION: You should step away from the anchor until there is enough resistance that is challenging, but not too hard where you can’t maintain optimal form. Do not let the band rotate your upper body, keep your arms straight and hips facing forward. Try to avoid twisting your back.

 

Step Out With Isometric Pallof Press

Sample PrehabX Video

HOW: Get a band or cable anchored somewhere between waist and shoulder height. While standing perpendicular to the anchor and holding the handle with both hands, press your arms forward away from your chest until your elbows are fully straight. Hold this position as you step out and away from the anchor while keeping your hips and shoulders square facing forward, then step back in, and repeat.

FEEL: You should feel your core and back muscles working as well as your arm muscles to maintain optimal position and form. You may also feel your hip and thigh muscles working as well to maintain position.

COMPENSATION: You should step away from the anchor until there is enough resistance that is challenging, but not too hard where you can’t maintain optimal form. Do not let the band rotate your upper body, keep your arms straight and hips facing forward. Try to avoid twisting your back.

 

Learn more core and low back strengthening exercises with our comprehensive Back Pain Recovery Program

 

Pallof Press Exercises: Add In The Legs

Lateral Lunge With Pallof Press

Sample PrehabX Video

HOW: Get a band or cable anchored somewhere between waist and shoulder height. While standing perpendicular to the anchor and holding the handle with both hands, press your arms forward away from your chest until your elbows are fully straight. Hold this position as you step and perform a lateral lunge away from the anchor while keeping your hips and shoulders square facing forward, then return to starting position and repeat.

FEEL: You should feel your core and back muscles working as well as your arm muscles to maintain optimal position and form. You will also feel your hip and thigh muscles working as well to maintain position and to perform the lateral lunge.

COMPENSATION: You should step away from the anchor until there is enough resistance that is challenging, but not too hard where you can’t maintain optimal form. Do not let the band rotate your upper body, keep your arms straight and hips facing forward. Try to avoid twisting your back. Try to keep your leg closer to the anchor straight.

 

Split Squat Pallof Press

Sample PrehabX Video

HOW: Get a band or cable anchored somewhere between waist and shoulder height. While standing perpendicular to the anchor and holding the handle with both hands, get set-up in a split squat position. While holding this position, press your arms forward away from your chest until your elbows are fully straight. Hold that position for a moment while keeping your hips and shoulders square facing forward, then bring your arms in and repeat.

FEEL: You should feel your core and back muscles working as well as your arm muscles to maintain optimal position and form. You will also feel your leg muscles working to maintain the split squat position, more so with the front leg.

COMPENSATION: You should step away from the anchor until there is enough resistance that is challenging, but not too hard where you can’t maintain optimal form. Do not let the band rotate your upper body, keep your arms straight and hips facing forward. Try to avoid twisting your back. Don’t lose split squat position or lean too far forward or back.

 

Pallof Press With Single Leg Marching

Sample PrehabX Video

HOW: Get a band or cable anchored somewhere between waist and shoulder height. While standing perpendicular to the anchor and holding the handle with both hands close to your chest, step out to build tension in the band. Once there is enough tension, balance on one leg and perform a single leg march, press your arms forward away from your chest until your elbows are fully straight. Hold that position for a moment while keeping your hips and shoulders square facing forward, then switch legs and repeat.

FEEL: You should feel your core and back muscles working as well as your arm muscles to maintain optimal position and form. You will also feel your leg muscles working, especially the leg that is on the ground.

COMPENSATION: You should step away from the anchor until there is enough resistance that is challenging, but not too hard where you can’t maintain optimal form. Do not let the band rotate your upper body, keep your arms straight and hips facing forward. Try to avoid twisting your back. Do not lose your balance, maintain good single leg balance form.

 

Mix It Up With These Variations

Partner Pallof Press Exercise Ideas

This modified partner pallof press exercise is just the stimulus variation you need to spice up your core workout! With a partner, grab a resistance band and distance yourself from one another until there is tension in the band. Now for 30-60 seconds, you and your partner will write your names, the word pallof press, or any word you would like and repeat! Level 1 is a good place to start, but if you want to increase the challenge then progress towards level 3. If the quality of movement gets sloppy with too much trunk rotation or movement, then regress to a lower level or perform the movement slower. Learn more partner core exercises here

 

Pallof Press 3D Variation

The standard Pallof Press can become dull and uneventful, so I decided to mix it up. Check this variation out! I decided to write my name and other words using a resistance band. The video is sped up 1.5x, but I am moving faster away from the anchor (concentric motion) and slower when the movement is toward the anchor (eccentric). Talk about an exercise that demands 3D strength! We don’t only move in a straight line in life, why would you train that way? Hope you enjoyed the article!

 

prehabX

2 Comments
  • Jamie Mclean
    Posted at 04:55h, 04 June Reply

    Thanks for the post! I love prescribing this exercise and was hoping to get more information on which low back pain patients would not benefit from this exercise as you have stated above.

    • Michael Lau
      Posted at 06:46h, 06 June Reply

      Most if not all would benefit! They are all anti-rotation exercises, meaning resisting movement at the spine so it’s a great introduction to loading for low back pain patients!

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