If you've never heard of the pallof press exercise (or if you only know one variation), you're in the right place. This move was designed by a physical therapist named John Pallof, geared toward improving core stability. To be more specific, the pallof press is a core exercise that resists movement. Consider the importance of the core during athletic activities; it's designed to help stabilize your mid-section while the limbs are in motion. Even if you're not playing on the field or in a boxing ring, this exercise is fantastic for training proper core bracing and stabilization in the gym or just in daily life.
Although the variations put the limbs in different positions, the core position still remains the same. During the pallof press, the core is always "braced". To practice this movement on the floor, lay on your back and bend your knees. Contract your abdominals by breathing out, focusing on creating tension around the entire abdominal musculature. To ensure you're bracing properly, put your hands on the bottom of your rib cage. As you breathe out and contract your abdominals, the rib cage will "sink" further toward your pelvic bone. If this doesn't help, place one hand underneath your low back. As you breathe out, the back will flatten tight against your hand. Still confused? Laugh, cough, or pretend you're fogging up a mirror. Whichever way works best for you, just remember not to simply suck in the tummy AND don't allow your upper neck (traps) to contract.
Got that down? Now try this practice while standing. Place a hand on your rib cage, breathe out, and feel tension develop throughout your abdominals and low back. Squeeze your glutes hard, tuck your chin, and get ready to pallof press!
Note: set the cable so it's in line with your sternum in the START position.
1. Static Squat Pallof Press
This variation is great for teaching core stability during a squat. Sink down into a squat, hold that position, and breathe out every time you push the cable out.
2. Reverse Lunge Pallof Press
This version emphasizes balance and coordination. Every time you step back into a lunge, bring the cable to your chest. As you stand back up to neutral, squeeze your glutes and extend your arms. Repeat on both legs.
3. Overhead Pallof Press
Do you experience back pain during overhead presses? You might not be properly engaging you core. In this variation, we're training anti-extension as we press the cable overhead while maintaining proper rib positioning.
4. Bridging Pallof Press
This is a twist on the easier supine pallof press. As you squeeze your glutes to come up into bridge position, press the cable out in front of you.
5. Lateral Stepping Pallof Press
For every step to the side, press the cable out. Repeat on both sides.
6. Half-Kneeling to Standing Pallof Press
From a half-kneeling position, press the cable out as you stand back up. This is similar to coming out of a deep lunge position. Repeat on both sides.
7. Single-Leg Pallof Press
This variation helps train balance and core stability by making the exercise uni-lateral. Stand on leg and press the cable out. Repeat on both sides.
Try a few of these variations in your training program and watch your core stability increase. Want a serious upgrade to your core training to help you decrease your risk of injury, improve your performance in the gym, and just be more awesome at life? Get a full two weeks of core stability training + bonus instructional videos on posture, core bracing, breathing, and more.