The Pallof Press: How, When, and Why It Should Be in Your Training

The Pallof Press is a prime core stabilization and movement patterning exercise (with numerous variations) to promote postural alignment and core stability in sporting movements. The Pallof Press offers weightlifters, powerlifters, and functional fitness athletes a unique training benefit to promote core stability, enhance bracing capacities, and decrease the risk of injury due to misalignment and compensation patterning while squatting, pulling, and in the overhead positioning. Let’s explore further how the Pallof Press can be a beneficial core stabilization and movement exercise for weightlifters AND other strength and functional fitness athletes.

pallof-press

The History Behind the Pallof Press

“The Pallof Press” was named after sports physical therapist, John Pallof, who has worked with high level professional athletes with specific focuses on the prevention and treatment and athletic injuries. Often seen throughout formal sport strength and conditioning realms, the Pallof press was developed as a way to establish greater core stability while integrating various patterns of human movement.

When:

This exercise has a wide application to strength and power sports, as well as general fitness. This exercise can be built into pre-warm up routines, during corrective exercise circuits, or any other time during a session. Due to the increased focus and neuromuscular control, especially with athletes in need of core stabilization and re-patterning, I suggest performing these exercises earlier in training session while an athlete is mentally and physically at their best.

Why:

The Pallof Press promotes core stabilization, injury resilience, and proper joint alignment and movement.

Increases Core Stabilization

The “core” is comprised of the rectus abdominis, internal and external obliques, transverse abdominis, and erector spinae. Collectively, they create an intricate webbing of muscles around the torso to resist destructive forces upon or spine. Anti-rotational and stabilization training can develop a lifter’s ability to resist potentially harmful rotational and shearing forces during sporting movements (anti-rotation of the spine while receiving a snatch overhead), training sessions, and day to day movement. Proper core stabilization and alignment can minimize other compensation patterning (such as excessive lumbar extension, thoracic immobility in the overhead positions, and/or weaknesses while assuming midline stability movements).

Some examples of core stabilization are:

    • Ability to resist rotational forces on the spine while receiving a snatch overhead (Absolutely AMAZING that this guy finished this lift…)

    • Sprinting requires a large degrees of core stabilization and anti-rotational abilities so that an athletes can promote peak power while maintaining proper gait patterining.

Promotes Injury Resilience

Poor core stabilization and midline control can result in a variety of overuse injuries. Common issues resulting from poor core stabilization are excessive lumbar extension under loads (squats, deadlifts, overhead presses), poor gait patterning (running, swimming, jumping), and increased stress on surrounding joints and tissues. Proper patterning and strengthening of through the usage of the Pallof Press (and it’s variations) can help coaches and athletes re-pattern postural alignment and control.

Some examples of compensation patterning due to poor midline control are:

    • Excessive lumbar extension (this athlete has a stable midline during double unders) while performing double unders.

A video posted by Alfonso López (@alflopez77) on

Enhances Joint Alignment and Movement

Abnormalities in postural alignment and core instability can affect the pelvis, lumbar, and spine. Excessive pelvic tilt (anterior or posterior), spinal flexion and extension (lateral flexion as well), and/or shoulder complex issues can arise during various movements with athletes who lack midline stability and control. In the event of imbalances and/or dysfunctions, the human body reroutes movement patterning (often manipulating the stability-mobility alignments of other joints).The Pallof Press offers coaches and athletes a diagnostic tool to determine if there is sufficient stabilization of the core during various dynamic and static movements, and shed light on any potentially harmful compensation patterns that stem from poor core stabilization and midline control.

Some examples of poor joint alignment and movement are:

    • Excessive lumbar extension and anterior pelvic tilt under load (squatting). This athlete is stacked and has a neutral pelvic tilt, demonstrating large amounts of core stabilization while squatting 500lbs!

A video posted by Jay Adams (@atrain4240) on

How:

Here are a series of Pallof Press exercises that can be integrated into current training routines.

Pallof Press + Hold

Pallof Press + Lateral Stability

Half Kneeling Pallof Press + Hold

Final Thoughts:

The Pallof Press and it’s variations are great core stabilization exercises to build into warm-ups, corrective segments, and/or throughout an athlete’s training session to increase athletic performance and injury resilience, Additionally, coaches and athletes can access midline stability during dynamic and static movement to determine any potentially harmful compensation patterning that an athlete may have.

Editors note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein are the authors and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.

Featured Image: J2FIT on Youtube

About the author

Mike Dewar

Mike holds a Masters in Exercise Physiology from Columbia University in NYC, USA. Mike is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), USA Weightlifting Club Coach (USAW2), and Performance Nutrition Coach. Mike is a sponsored ReebokONE Ambassador specializing in weightlifting, barbell and powerlifting training, and sport-specific strength and conditioning. Additionally, Mike is an Assistant Coach of Strength and Conditioning at NYU and the Co-Founder at J2FIT Human Performance in NYC, USA. Mike is the Founder of The Barbell CEO, a lifestyle brand devoted to the strongest coaches, entrepreneurs, and minds. Additionally, Mike is a co-host on The Fittest League Podcast.