Movement Masterclass: Pallof Press


Movement Masterclass: Pallof Press

Here Third Space trainer Henry Howe puts a new twist on your core training

The Pallof press, popularised by Boston-based Physio John Pallof, is a great core exercise that uses the arms and some clever biomechanics to load the muscles of the torso. It also forms part of most of my back pain rehab programmes so offers serious benefits to help you look good and move well – not bad for a simple movement.

When it comes to core training you have two options: you can create movement or you can resist it. To take two classic core exercises, for example, a plank resists movement as you stop your hips sinking to the floor and a crunch creates movement as you bring your head to your knees. Exercises that resist movement are thought to have more carryover benefit to your other training in the gym, and the Pallof press is a prime example.

We classify exercises that resist movement as either anti-flexion, anti-extension and anti-rotation. The Pallof press is an anti-rotation exercise and this means it loads all the muscles involved in torso rotation, primarily the obliques. But there’s more to focusing on these muscles than training to be on the cover of a magazine. Rotation is a key movement in so many sports, thinking throwing a punch, swinging a golf club or serving in tennis – the Pallof press is designed to provide pro-grade rotation that’ll take your game to the next level.

You just need to do it right. Here’s how.

  • Begin by tying a band to a rig at chest height or setting up a cable
  • Take the band or cable in both hands, and set yourself up so you are side on to the rig/cable
  • Start with your hands against the centre of your chest, with the body in an athletic stance – some mild bend in the hips, knees and ankles
  • At this stage draw an imaginary line out from the centre of your chest, then press your hands along that line and work really hard to not let the band/cable twist you off-centre
  • Return back along the line and repeat for 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps



Key tip: this is an exercise of tension. Set and tense your whole torso and shoulder to work against the twist. Be solid. And don’t be afraid to go heavy – the extra weight will make creating the tension easier so you can activate more muscle fibres and earn more benefit with each rep.

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