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Strengthen Your Core with These 4 Pallof Press Variations


Way back in 2006, physical therapist John Pallof came up with what is known as the Pallof press. This move dynamically trains anti-rotation, anti-low back extension, and posterior pelvic tilt.

Not everyone is onboard with the benefits of the Pallof, but sometimes people miss the subtleties of the Pallof press and its ability to change angles and body positions to train the midsection in various ways. Besides training anti-rotational/lateral strength, it’s is an excellent side plank regression exercise, because not all of us have the required shoulder or hip strength to hold a side plank for time.

Other benefits of the Pallof press are.

  • Versatility: This exercise is trained in the half and tall kneeling, split stance, and with a resistance band or cable machine.
  • Great Squat & Deadlift Primer: Performing this press before hitting the barbell helps “prime” your muscles around the core to provide the tension needed to protect your spine.

Here we’ll give you a quick refresher on the standard Pallof press and four variations to include in your training to further bulletproof your core strength.

How To Do The Standard Pallof Press

The Pallof trains the larger and smaller muscles around the spine to resist rotation. This exercise has you hold a resistance band or cable in front of your torso while pressing it out and back. Here is how to do it.

  1. Stand parallel with feet hip-width apart from the cable machine or the resistance band anchor point.
  2. Side step until you feel the resistance and clasp the handle or band with both hands.
  3. Ensure your upper body is front on and bring your hands to the center of your chest.
  4. Press until elbows are extended, slowly return your hands to the chest, reset, and repeat.

4 Pallof Press Variations For Next-Level Core Strength

The standard Pallof press is an excellent exercise, but it’s not the most exciting core exercise going around. Here are four variations that anyone can add to their core training regimen.

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Chaos Pallof Press

Adding a little chaos to your life and training is not all bad. Bringing the chaos to the Pallof press is definitely an excellent thing for your core strength. Adding a weight plate to the band variation not only adds intensity, but the unpredictability of the bouncing plate improves your reactive strength to improve your anti-rotational strength further. And as a bonus, the oscillating band also adds some juice to your rotator cuff.

Benefits: It adds unpredictability to an exercise with a relatively fixed range of motion which is excellent if you play a sport with a ton of variability.

How to do it:

  1. Attach a band to secure anchor point around lower chest height.
  2. Slide a five or 10-pound plate halfway up the band.
  3. Walk out laterally until you have enough tension and grip the band by your sternum. You can do this with feet together, a split stance, or the tall or half-kneeling position.
  4. Press slowly and pause for a beat when your elbows are extended.
  5. Return to the starting position and reset and repeat.

Sets & reps: One to two sets doing 12 reps per side.

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Half-Kneeling Split-Stance Pallof Press

Pallof press is obviously an excellent anti-rotation core exercise. Still, when you perform it in a half-kneeling split stance, you’ll also get added hip mobility benefits. This Pallof variation focuses on the adductors, vital in flexing and extending the hip. If they are “tight, “ getting adequate hip flexion and extension to dominate your lower body exercise becomes an issue.

Benefits: This Pallof variation gives your adductors an active stretch to help reinforce good hip mobility before attacking your lower body workout.

How to do it:

Note: You can do this with a band too.

  1. Bring the cable attachment (or the band) to hip height while kneeling.
  2. Grip the band or cable by your sternum side onto the anchor point and the leg closest to it; take it out to the side with your toes pointed forward.
  3. Feeling a stretch in your inner thigh, engage your glutes and perform the Pallof press as usual.

Sets & reps: Pairing it with a squat or deadlift variation in a superset as an active recovery drill works well. Eight to 12 reps per side will do.

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Single Leg Pallof Press

Most Pallof presses are performed with two contact points on the ground, either your feet or knees or a combo. The single-leg variation reduces your base of support to increase the intensity of the exercise while improving your static and dynamic single-leg balance. Warning: this is an advanced variation that may require a bit of practice.

Benefits: This variation increases the strength of the smaller glute muscles responsible for good hip, knee, and ankle health.

How to do it:

  1. Attach a band around chest height and grasp the band with both hands.
  2. Bring it to your sternum and walk out laterally until you have enough tension.
  3. The foot closest to the anchor point comes off the ground, and then find your balance.
  4. Perform the Pallof press as usual, ensuring your reset for good balance.

Sets & reps: One to two sets of eight to 10 reps on each side before hitting the barbell will have you ready to go.

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Tall Kneeling Overhead Pallof Press

Pressing overhead instead of laterally makes the tall kneeling overhead Pallof press an anti-rotation and anti-low back extension exercise. You are giving yourself more bang for your core buck. A standard error when overhead pressing is a too much lower back extension to finish the movement. This variation will strengthen this common fault to protect your low back and improve your overhead pressing technique.

Benefits: This variation is an excellent primer exercise before overhead pressing, and the tall-kneeling position will help improve your glute strength and hip mobility.

How to do it:

  1. Get the cable attachment or band just above shoulder height when in the tall- kneeling position.
  2. Then, get your back to the anchor point and grip either side of the band or rope attachment.
  3. Engaging your glutes, press overhead while keeping your rib down and low back in neutral.
  4. When elbows are extended, slowly lower to shoulder height, reset, and repeat.

Sets & reps: Pair this with any overhead press variation for 8 to 12 reps to nail good technique and lower back health.

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