My Favorite Core Exercise

My favorite Core Exercise – Pallof Press
July 26, 2012

Core training.  Just what is it?  What does training the Core mean?

Often I will meet with new clients who are investigating training at our facility.  Asking a potential client what brings them in, solicits a response of “I have to strengthen my core”.  But for the most part, few understand what that means.  For most they think their abs are weak and this translates into needing to strengthen their core.  Few realize that the core actually involves muscles on the front of the body (anterior core), the sides (obliques), muscles of the back and also muscles surrounding the hips (glutes, hip flexors, extensors).

The primary function of the core is to provide isometric support and in the case of the abdominal muscles to limit the amount of rotation through the lumbar spine.  A lot of back problems may be caused by the abdominal muscles not controlling the amount of rotation through the spine.  In other words, the job of the anterior core is “no movement”.

The core does not just involve the abodminals.  Core training needs to address all muscles groups that help to stabilize the spine and pelvis.  Spinal muscles, glutes, hamstrings – all play a role in core stability and strength.  Some of the most effective exercises for these muscles are:  planks, side planks, push ups, squats, lunges with a twist, superman (or bird dog) and bridging.

The benefits of a strong and stable core are:

  • great efficiency of movement
  • improved body control
  • improved balance
  • increase power output from the limbs (eg can’t shoot a cannon from a canoe)
  • reduced risk of injury  (glutes will act as shock absorbers)
  • improved performance – get better at your sport!

My exercise of choice that addresses all these components, especially in the early stages of training, is the Pallof Press.
Named after physical therapist John Pallof, this simple looking, yet tough exercise is proving its worth over and over, both in the gym and out.



The Pallof Press is an anti-rotation exercise that strengthens the core for its primary purpose – to stabilize the spine and pelvis.  The goal of this exercise is to maintain a neutral spine in an athletic position, all the time resisting the rotation put on the body by the pull of the cable stack
How To Perform the Pallof Press:

Assume an upright posture, with slight knee bend (athletic position)
Feet shoulder width apart, chest out and shoulders back.  Stand tall thru the rib cage
Look straight ahead, keep shoulders down.
Start with your hands in the starting position (middle of your chest)
Fully extend your arms out and hold this position for 3-5 seconds
Return to the chest and repeat for desired reptitions (6-8)

There should be absolutely no movement from the body other than the arms extending.  You must resist the rotation of the cable to pull you to the side.  Don’t lean back or push your hips forward.  Shoulders right over hips and eyes square to the front.  If you cannot maintain a stable position, the weight is probably too heavy

Till next time,


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