Pallof Press: The GOAT of trunk exercises

Pallof Press: The GOAT of trunk exercises

What is the pallof press?

The pallof press is an anti-rotation exercise utilising a cable machine or power band that targets the trunk muscles. Although the trunk muscles are the focus, in reality the pallof press works the shoulders, the back, the hips and lower limbs as well. It is a sneaky exercise that looks like you’re not doing much at all, until you do the movement yourself and realise the amount of work required to keep yourself steady. 

When should I use the pallof press?

Because of the utility of the pallof press, I would recommend having them in your program regularly (in one variation or another – more on that later). Specifically, I tend to incorporate it in a lot of lower back pain rehab, mostly due to the ability to get a high level of trunk muscle activation without being aggravating. Similarly, it can be a good early stage exercise for shoulder, thoracic and neck injuries. 

How do I do a pallof press?

A standard standing pallof press is done with the feet around shoulder width apart, standing perpendicular to the cable or a fixated band and starting in an ‘athletic stance’ – with a good amount of tension on the band/cable to start, press the cable in front of you until your arms are full extended and hold at the end range position for 1-2 seconds – don’t let the tension of the cable pull you to the side, you should be pressing straight in front of you! Return slowly to the starting position and that’s one full repetition. 

See video for more!

What are some pallof variations?

There are a number of variations in your positioning that will elicit a different response and target slightly different structures:

Standing pallof: as described above

Half-kneeling pallof: Outside knee up, inside knee on ground

Tall kneeling pallof: both knees on ground 

Lunge iso pallof: isometric hold at the bottom of the lunge position

Squat pallof: ½ range squat position

How do I progress?

There are a number of different options in order to progress and expose yourself to novel stimulus. The easiest way is by increasing the weight of the cable, or increasing the resistance on the band by stepping out a bit further. You can also move into different static positions as listed above. Alternatively, if your injury allows – you can progress with rotation along the plane of the band – or into different planes such as a woodchop. 

Give the pallof press a try next time you are working out, it will become a staple exercise in your programming once you do!

Tom Eather – BeFit Training Physio Double Bay

Tom Eather – BeFit Training Physio Double Bay

Tom Eather, a Senior Physiotherapist based in Double Bay, Sydney, offers effective treatment for musculoskeletal problems. With personalized assessments and evidence-based rehabilitation programs, Tom addresses the root cause of injuries to achieve long-lasting results. Specializing in Golf and sports injury physiotherapy, he emphasizes comprehensive healing over temporary fixes. To book a consultation, click the link below.

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