Named after physical therapist, John Pallof, the Pallof press is one of those great core stability exercises from which everyone can benefit.
It’s main purpose is to strengthen the obliques and rectus abdominus, which provide stability to the entire trunk and prevent excessive or unnecessary flexion or extension.
Additionally, like many great exercises, it is simple to demonstrate, but not so simple to execute well.
The Pallof press can be done with a pulley system, or can be done with a simple band. The client should start by standing with feet in the power stance–about shoulder width apart, with feet pointed forward. The band or pulley will be to the side of the athlete and slightly to the front. The distance between the athlete and the band will be determined by the length of the band or pulley and the weight being handled. Suffice to say, this press is not about “maxing out”. Rather, it’s effectiveness comes about from the isometric contractions caused by trying to move the band or pulley straight out from your sternum, while the pulley/band is trying to pull you laterally in the direction from where it originates.
The goal is to slowly extend the band along the sagittal plane from sternum until the arms are fully extended in a perfect 90 degree angle from the torso, then slowly returning it to its original starting position. This can be repeated for 3 sets of 10 as a starting point, progressing gradually to higher repetitions or gradually increasing the tension on the band.
Another variation involves moving the band from the sternum to overhead, all while maintaining a rigid torso and not allowing the band to pull your arms out of the straight vertical path you are intending for them to go.
Maintaining structural integrity of the spine is a critical component to strength training. All strength athletes are aware of the potential dangers of lifting weights that are too heavy with a trunk that isn’t as strong as it should be to support such loads. The Paloff press is but one of several exercises which are recommended to athletes at any level, as it is highly effective and can be a critical component to building structural integrity in anyone.