How to Use the Pallof Press to Build an Iron Core

The Pallof Press trains the core's true function, the ability to resist rotation. See how to do the move, plus 4 Pallof Press variations.

The Pallof Press, named after physical therapist John Pallof, is a fantastic exercise for athletes for two primary reasons:

1. The Pallof Press trains the true function of the core, which is the ability to resist motion (in this case, rotation.)

Athletes are often looking for ways to create more rotational power, which is the type of strength you use when you swing a baseball bat or throw an opponent to the ground in MMA. This is a worthy pursuit. But if your don't know how to control that rotation and create "stiffness" through the trunk and hips when they need it most (for example, a golfer at the exact point of impact or a baseball pitcher at the point of release), they won't be to turn that force into something useful.

RELATED: A 5-Minute Test to See if Your Core is Working Properly

The Pallof Press trains an athlete to maintain rigidity through the trunk and hips. That improves the stability of all of those muscles, but also the entire body's ability to be powerful. (All of this is why the Pallof Press is one of the Best Core Exercises for Athletes.)

2. The Pallof Press offers you a nearly endless supply of progressions.

We'll start with how to do the basic Standing Pallof Press, and then get into some of the ways you can modify the move to make it more challenging. (And not adding new challenges is one of 5 Huge Core Workout Mistakes People Make.) To do a Pallof Press

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold a cable with both hands directly in front of your chest. Place your inside hand on the cable handle, and your other hand overtop.
  • Bend your knees slightly and "shove" your butt and hips back a bit. Try to keep your hips in line with the cable column. A common compensation is to have a slight hip rotation. This creates artificial stability and takes some pressure off the trunk. We don't want that. See the two photos below for what that compensation looks like.
Pallof Press: Bad Hip Position vs Good Hip Position

Left: Bad Hip Position (too upright and slightly rotated), Right: Good Hip Position

  • Press the handle explosively straight ahead. Ideally the handle should not shift sideways at all during the movement.
  • Bring the handle back to your chest. Maintain the same degree of control throughout, resisting any side-to-side movement in the handle.
  • See the video player above for a full demonstration of the movement.

People often ask, "How far should I stand from the cable column?"

The answer is: Stand far enough to have sufficient tension in the cord. You probably don't need to stand 10 feet away to do that. Two or three steps should do it.

Like you would with any exercise, you could increase the challenge of the Pallof Press by adding weight (using a stronger resistance band) But there are several other you can progress this movement and get more results.

RELATED: Build True Core Power with Rotation Exercises

Pallof Press Iso Hold

Pallof Press: Iso Hold

The Iso hold version is very simple. Instead of doing repetitions, you just press the handle forward and hold it. If you want to up the difficulty even further, have a friend tap on the band as you hold.

See the video player above for a demonstration of the Pallof Iso Hold.

Narrow-Stance Pallof Press

Narrow-Stance Pallof Press

Bring your feet closer together to reduce your base of support. Now you'll have to work harder to maintain stability throughout the movement.

Pallof Press With Overhead Extension

Pallof Press with Overhead Extension

Just when you thought this movement couldn't get any cooler, you can add an anti-extension component to it. Push the band forward, and when your hands reach full extension, lift them until they are in line with your forehead.

See the video player above for a demonstration of the Pallof Press With Overhead Extension. 

Tall or Half-Kneeling Pallof Press

Tall-Kneeling Pallof Press vs Half-Kneeling Pallof Press

Left: Tall-Kneeling Pallof Press, Right: Half-Kneeling Pallof Press

If you find yourself struggling with the basic Pallof Press, drop down into tall- or half-kneeling position. These positions don't just build strength--they're also phenomenal hip flexor stretches. Performing the exercise this way will also really help you get you dialed in to your glutesc.

Gone are the days of doing endless Russian Twists to develop the rotational power of the core.


See 5 More Killer Pallof Press Variations

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The 27 Best Core Exercises for Athletes

Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock