When it comes to strength and conditioning programming, the devil is in the details.
In regard to choosing movements and exercises, we want our progressions and modifications to include and challenge as many potential synergists as they can. Here is a simple modification to the Pallof Press that I have found to make for an even more effective exercise.
The serratus anterior is touted as one of the most important and undervalued muscles for improving function of the scapulae, the GH joint, and the AC joint. That’s a triple-whammy, guys. A hat-trick. But it doesn’t stop there. The serratus also plays a role in breathing and thoracic movement. It assists in exhalation and is furthermore a synergist in flexion and contralateral rotation of the t-spine, protracting the scap along the ribs. And if all of that wasn’t enough, its superior fibers prevent the external rotation of the scapulae (the scapular “winging” effect) by keeping the medial border flush to the ribcage.
So, what does all this have to do with the Pallof Press? Well, to resist rotation in one direction (Pallof Press exercise) is to produce rotation in the other. Given the aforementioned role of the serratus anterior in thoracic rotation, here are a couple of examples of how we can incorporate the serratus into this great anti-rotation exercise.
Perform the Serratus Pallof Press by raising the angle of the arms to just above the shoulders and protracting the scapulae (pushing the shoulder blades forward). I like to hold for exhalations as opposed to time (or both) to increase contribution of the serratus anterior and the core. Anywhere between five to seven deep exhalations is good.
For the progression with the lateral shuffles, maintain the above position and challenge its integrity with sidesteps away from, and then toward, the cable.
Photo Credit: South_agency/iStock