Need a simple exercise to strengthen your core? Try the Cable Push-Pull.
According to Mike Boyle, legendary strength coach and owner of Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning, the Cable Push-Pull is one of the simplest but most effective exercises to increase core strength.
“To me, this is one of the best anti-rotation core exercises,” he says. “People probably look at this and think it’s a Press and a Row, and it is. But in this Press and Row, what we’re really going to do is stabilize against rotational forces.”
Anti-rotation describes when core muscles tighten to prevent the torso from rotating—especially the lower back. This is critical for increasing power, preventing energy leaks and protecting the spine. You can learn more about anti-rotation here.
The beauty of this exercise is that it’s incredibly simple to perform. By resisting the simultaneous push and pull, your core automatically fires to prevent your torso from twisting.
“The cool thing here is if you get somebody to do this exercise right, you’re going to see right away that they feel their core muscles,” Boyle explains. “You don’t need to tell them to draw in or brace. You just tell them to push-pull.”
This exercise is perfect for athletes or anyone with some degree of workout experience. It’s relatively easy move to perform, but it shouldn’t be one of the first core exercises you perform in the gym.
Boyle demonstrates it with a Keiser cable machine. If you don’t have access to this type of machine, a traditional cable machine or even resistance bands work fine.
Start from a kneeling position with a relatively light weight. As you get comfortable with the move and build strength, add weight and eventually progress to the standing position.
Here’s how to perform the Cable Push-Pull:
Set two cable attachments to chest height. The exact position will depend on your height and whether you’re kneeling or standing.
Kneel on the ground with your hips straight. Hold the cable in front of you with your left arm extended and hold the cable behind you with your right arm at your chest.
Without moving your hips and torso, simultaneously row with your left arm and press with your right arm. Control the movement back to the starting position and repeat.
Sets/Reps: 3×10 each side
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