Updated: Aug 21, 2019
The Pallof press has been a staple of athletes and the injured for some time as a way to train the rotational core strength of individuals. Its named after John Pallof, a physiotherapist, who popularised the exercise in the fitness and health industry back in 2005.
As such there are many variations as to how this exercise is performed and and lots of levels of difficulty to keep you challenged along the way.
What muscles does the pallof press target ?
What muscles doesn't it target is the question really. To be honest if you do this exercise with good postural control and effort then there is not much in your core its not training.
Rectus abdominus: While the Pallof press does not entail flexion and extension of the spine, it does demand spinal stabilization and anti-rotational abilities from the core. The rectus abdominis contracts isometrically to assist in spinal stabilization during this movement.
Transversus abdominus, Erectore spinae and deep core muscles: While the Pallof press does not entail flexion and extension of the spine, it does demand spinal stabilization and anti-rotational abilities from the core. The rectus abdominis contracts isometrically to assist in spinal stabilization during this movement.
Obliques: The obliques are challenged isometrically to resist spinal and pelvic rotation, often responsible for shearing forces being placed upon the lumbar spine. The anti-rotational properties of the exercise make it a pivotal for most athletes (placing loads overhead, running, throwing, etc).
Deep gluteals at the hip , especially single leg variations. The glutes work isometrically to help stabilize the pelvis and increase stability for the spine (attached to the hips). During kneeling and seated versions, they may be targeted slightly less.
As an added bonus it can be very useful in shoulder and hip rehabilitation.
Train the moments not movements.
To improve rotational strength at the lumbar spine the logical conclusion is to train the movement. HoweverThere is evidence that shows that if we train the intention to move, (the moment), rather than the movement itself this results in a low risk/high reward scenario, especially with the lumbar spine, ( McGill 2014).
This is sometimes refered to as an anti-rotation exercise, to emphasise its roll in building a resiliance to rotational movement stress. However this term doesn't reflect how good it is at helping with rotational strength.
How to do a Pallof press for beginners.
The simplest way to achieve this is to lift your chest up about 1-2 cm.
Find a half way point between a fully tilted pelvis (arched back) and fully curled under. Doesnt have to be perfect just close enough is good enough.
Like a golfers stance.
The pallof press should start with your hands at your sternum, (breast bone), and the action is to ;
Press the band directly in front of you.
Make clockwise or anti-clockwise circles.
4 Pallof press variations:
Standing Pallof press:
High kneeling Pallof press
Single leg Pallof press
TRx Pallof press
Add this cracking core strength exercise into your training and watch your stability and strength skyrocket.