Exercises You Should Be Doing: Pallof Press

Since it’s the New Year and everyone and there uncle has the goal of getting that lean midsection – dare I say a six pack – I figured touching on one of the best exercises for creating a solid, lean midsection would be some valuable reading. I could have picked from a handful of different exercise but I have a favorite, an exercise that has some many progressions/options that I tend to gravitate to it a little more…plus it can be really hard if you choose to make it be.

Shockingly you’ll see nothing about crunches, sit ups or whatever the heck people are doing on those “ab machines”. What you will see is a very simple yet effective exercise that anyone and everyone should be doing and an exercise that you can add different variations to in order to make it more difficult as you progress. Enter the belly press.

The belly press is a simple anti-rotational exercise that will scorch your midsection while saving you back issues down the road. And its fool proof…it’s hard to mess it up. Grad a cable set at approximately chest height with a D-handle attached to it. With a slight bend in the knees while standing tall with your chest up, press the cable out by extending your arms and then slowly bring your arms back to your chest. For the visual learners out there, it looks a little something like this:

To kick the level of intensity up a notch you can add isometric holds. Again, this is pretty simple. You perform everything in the same fashion except you literally hold steady when your arms are fully extended for 5-10 seconds.  Again, for the visual learners:

Another little twist we can add to the pallof press would be the overhead version of the movement. Perfect form by Cressey Performance coach Tony Gentilecore:

To make things a little more interesting we can perform the pallof press from a tall kneeling position. The tall kneeling position makes it a little more difficult due to the fact that you are no longer standing, taking any contribution from your legs out of the mix. Again, we can perform this with either the standard pressing or with isometric holds.

We can still take the intensity a little further. This time, instead of standing we can perform the same movement in the ½ kneeling position. Again, we can do this in one of two ways by performing the normal pressing cadence or performing the holds.

Furthermore, we can perform the movement in a split stance position with the same variations as we’ve previously seen. For example, the split stance version with holds:

There you have it, one simple core exercise to help you get that solid midsection. With so many variations this exercise should keep you and your midsection guessing for a while. My recommendation would be to start with the standard pallof press for a couple weeks and slowly work your way up the food chain to the more difficult versions of the exercise. I personally perform a version of the pallof press up to 3 times per week with a couple sets of 5-6 reps for each side.

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