Another (better?) Pallof Press variation

Posted on November 13, 2012


(Last Updated On: April 11, 2016)

The main idea behind the Pallof Press is training the abdominals to prevent movement. This is in contrast to just about every ab exercise you see people doing at the gym. While the PP is attempting to train the ability to prevent movement at the spine, most ab exercises are promoting movement at the spine.

I’ve talked a bit about my abdominal training philosophy before, especially for those with lower back issues (see Another example of impaired movement), suffice to say I’m HEAVILY on the side of movement prevention.

There are a ton of variations for the Pallof Press. The typical set-up is standing with some kind of arm punching movement.

Core exercise lower back pain

Again, the idea is to prevent movement at the abs and spine, but generate movement at the arms. The longer the arms are, the more work the stomach does to try and prevent any twisting.


It’s absolutely crucial to make sure the hips / spine are not moving. If they are, we’re defeating the purpose of the exercise. For instance:


Here comes the issue with the PP: People swear to the heavens on the efficacy of this exercise and many similar to it, yet this exercise is HARD to teach / do properly. And don’t give me that shit about “Oh, maybe you just don’t coach it well.” I’ve seen what many people consider to be the “best” in this industry, and I can tell you, unequivocally, they have trouble teaching their clients this too.

First off, getting people to accept the notion of doing an ab exercise where their abs don’t move is work in itself. Getting them to know when they’re moving is more work, getting them to then understand how to prevent the motion is more work.

I don’t care who you are or what your coaching abilities are, to your average person, this is foreign land.

It’s not that it can’t be done, I just think there’s an easier way.

For anyone with lower back issues, or movement issues at the spine, I’m a big fan of putting them against a wall. This way they know when they’re lower back is moving (because it won’t be touching the wall any more.)

This can be hard with the PP because having the perfect set-up of a cable station, nicely set with a wall, is not realistic. Therefore, I put people on the ground.

This works wonders for people. Now all you have to say is, “Don’t let your body come off the ground, at all.” Furthermore, people realize how much their lower back moves because of how much concentration it takes them to not move. Once they go to a standing version of this they have wayyyy more understanding of the goal of the exercise.

Lastly, it’s typical for one side to feel harder than the other. This is especially true of those with any type of rotational sport history (tennis, baseball, etc.) or those with lower back issues (imbalance between obliques).  Hence, a major purpose of the exercise i.e. to even things out.

Try it out.

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Posted in: Lower Back Pain