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How TO Make This Core Exercise MUCH Better!

sandbag fitness equipment

I like seeing our industry grow! It inspires me to see coaches wanting to provide better solutions to those that entrust us to help them. Especially because it allows us to have deeper conversations about continuing to build upon those solutions and really understanding functional training concepts. The reality is, sometimes we start moving one step forward and then our industry sadly takes two steps back. A great example is a great core exercise called the Pallof Press. 

core exercise

Not to be confused as the Pavlov Press (yes, I’ve seen several people do that!), the funny name can be attributed to physical therapist, John Pallof, who created the exercise. Mr. Pallof created the exercise to teach how to resist unwanted rotation of the body. The exercise was taught with two hands on a cable or band handle, while having the weight lateral to your body. When you press your arms out from the body, the change in leverage and position of the body would cause a “brace” to occur teaching the body how to properly stabilize. 

Wrong core exercise!

While I realize there are some “interesting” social media people promoting that you never want to teach anti-rotation, they are unfortunately ill informed on how the body works. Many of our largest muscles like our lats, obliques, and even glutes are designed to both produce and resist force at the same time. So, while the contrarians would try to argue we always rotate, they miss the fact our body must learn how to control how MUCH rotation occurs and where it does occur from (hip and low back rotation are very different beasts). Therefore, teaching anti-rotation in this manner is a very powerful core exercise. 


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A wide base takes away from the stability that the Pallof press can create. Using these other strategies allow us to make it much more effective. 

What makes it especially good is that it tries to integrate a more realistic position of the body as well as the lower and upper body. Just like everything else in our body, we don’t want to isolate the core (which is impossible anyway if we understand the core is 35 muscles in our body and not just the abs). 

You may be wondering what made me want to write a post about an already good core exercise? Well, as something gets popular in the fitness industry it often gets going down a less than productive direction. I think coaches sometimes get bored and they look to make an exercise more difficult which doesn’t always mean more productive. 

That has resulted in people making the Pallof Press not as productive of a core exercise as it could be. Want to do I mean? Well, due to leverage of the movement in the upper body, it can be very hard to go heavy in the exercise. So, some have gone to making the external resistance more unstable. While some have done this successfully in a very incremental manner, others have gone off the deep end believing that the more unstable the external resistance, the better the core exercise. 

However, as Dr. Brandon Marcello talked about this in his interview HERE, that isn’t what stability training is all about. Think about the fact that at its foundation, stability training is about making connection of the chains of the body so we can move more efficiently. If we don’t know this to start, we just end up trying to survive this core exercise rather than benefitting from it. 

stability training

That is why we do the Pallof Press a bit differently. One of the issues I have seen coaches have in the Pallof Press is that due to the position of the hands, the upper body can’t connect to the core. We have this load entering our body that doesn’t have a foundation to really deal with this stress properly. Therefore, that is why we use the Ultimate Sandbag to “pull apart” the weight to create that connection of the upper body to the core. We don’t see shoulders shrugging and we see better quality of movement. 


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Integrating our Ultimate Core Strap just opens up so many opportunities to create better functional training solutions like raising the value of the Pallof press

Just like the more familiar Pallof Press, we run into an issue of leverage limiting load (especially when we have two loads to deal with, pulling us two different directions). What do we do if I am suggesting that making the load unstable is not the best thing to probably do? I would rather change our body position to create a higher demand of making these connections. As we change body position and start to move in dynamic ways, we have to react to the load still, but we do so in a more synergistic manner where we aren’t just stressing our body trying to survive, but actually teach better movement. 

That is why we often start these movements on our back, go to our bird dogs (which is actually a form of a Pallof Press), go to tall kneeling, half kneeling, standing, sprinter stance, and then the “fun” really starts:) 

Hopefully, you see my point is with proper intent and understanding of what this core exercise is supposed to be, we can still create variety but with greater purpose. How do we know if it is working though? You should feel like you are moving better, you should see better hip and shoulder mobility, you should have a means to know if the work you are doing is actually improving your movement skills. That is what makes any exercise great!

Want to know more about how we create progressions that give you the best of variety and purpose? Don’t miss saving 30% on our DVRT Online Education HERE and our Ultimate Sandbags with code “holiday2020”!