When it comes to core or ab training, the first exercises which come into mind are crunches and sit-ups. But the world of core exercises has so much more to offer. Crunches or similar exercises limit the active muscles basically to the abs. The pallof press is still quite an unknown exercise, and at the same time one of the best core exercises out there. What I especially love about pallof presses is that they are done standing up. This way you train your core in a very practical way for actual athletic activities.
The result is a great carryover to exercises where the core plays a major supporting role, like squats and deadlifts, as well as to sport where rotational movements are involved – basically any sport.
This article will give you everything you need to start with the pallof press. Starting with how to do it correctly, what equipment you will need and what form mistakes to avoid. We discuss ways to adjust the resistance and look at the various variations to the basic pallof press. We finish it off by a detailed look at what muscles are involved in this exercise, as well as how to incorporate pallof pressing in a workout routine.
How To Do The Pallof Press Right With Resistance Bands?
There are many interesting variations of the pallof press that you can do with resistance bands, first we learn the very basic version.
Let’s start with the equipment you’ll need:
- Resistance Band – Not a huge surprise. At this point, a little advice: Get yourself a set of bands with different resistance levels from the get go. This will give you the option to progress by using a heavier band and to train your entire body with the right resistance. If you don’t have a set yet, we got you covered: Resistance Band Set
- Door Anchor – Of course, you can attach the band to anything stable which doesn’t have any sharp edges. Having a door anchor makes the whole setting up easier and much more flexible. Just get one, it’s worth it: Door Anchor
- Workout Gloves – Not an essential piece of equipment, but you will highly appreciate it if you use resistance bands regularly. Since band generate friction when they are stretched, protecting the contact points is a good idea. Using gloves (Workout Gloves) is the way to go for your hands.
At the beginning of the movement, you will have your hands very close to your body, and then you press them out. You will feel how the pull of the resistance band will try to turn your body towards the band. This is the force you have to balance out with your core. Basically, there shouldn’t be any rotation of your body, only the in and out of your hands.
Follow these 8 steps to get your first correct pallof press:
- Attach the band to a door with a door anchor (Height: around chest level)
- Grab the band between your hands
- Step away from the anchor point until there is tension in the band
- Turn 90 degrees – shoulders are aligned with the band path
- Get a wider stance for stability – Bend your knees slightly
- Extend your arms forward to full extension
- Reverse the movement and bring your hands to your lower chest
- Repeat for reps (Don’t forget the other side!)
Common Form Mistakes
⓵ Lock The Band In! – the best way to hold the band is wrapping it around your hand that’s closer to the anchor point, then take your other hand and intertwine the fingers, so the band is between your hands. This is the most comfortable grip where you can hold the band in the center of your body while pushing your arms forward and retracting them.
⓶ Avoid overarching the back! – This often happens if the load is too high and the body tries to compensate it. By moving the shoulders back and the hips forward, you will lower the rotational force. But you will increase the chance of an ouch. A very unnecessary one. Instead, use a lighter resistance band or step closer towards the anchor point.
⓷ Chest out, Shoulders back, Straight Back! – Keep in mind to leave the shoulders retracted throughout the whole movement. By allowing the shoulders to move forward often results in a rounded upper back. A good way to avoid all that is by consciously sticking your chest out.
Now you have everything to perfectly pallof press yourself to a strong and functional core.
There are some more general things to keep in mind when using resistance band for fitness training. We collected The Worst Mistakes You Can Do When Training With Resistance Bands in an article by itself. Check it out.
How To Adjust The Resistance
One of the greatest things about resistance bands is that each band has a resistance range and not a fixed one. Therefore, you can increase and lower the resistance without changing the band.
The best way to adjust the resistance when doing pallof presses is:
Changing the Distance to the Anchor point – The best method to switch gears in exercises where you anchor the band. Simply take a side step, and you make the reps harder or easier. A step away from the anchor point will result in a greater stretch in the band and therefore make it more challenging to work against the rotational pull. Coming closer towards the anchor point does the opposite. But make sure that there is still tension in the band. You can even do that in the middle of a set. I like to take a small step towards the door anchor when I can’t do any more reps and knock out a couple of extra reps out.
Slowing it down – Another great method to increase the intensity which is often neglected is performing each rep slower. Try it, and you will probably need to use a lighter band or shorten the distance to the anchor point. This is due the increased time under tension. This means that the core muscles have to work much harder in total, even though the resistance is lower or the same.
Adding a little pause in the fully extended position of your arms, is another great way to play with increased time under tension.
Regression and Progression of The Basic Pallof Press
There are some great ways to make it more interesting and really challenge the core. Or to make it easier in case you’re just starting with resistance training.
Kneeling Pallof Press – In the kneeling position, the hip rotation is out of the picture and therefore less work for the core to do. This is great to get used to the movement and progress to the standing version.
Shape Drawing Pallof Press – This is especially fun and will give you a bulletproof core. Extend your arms and start drawing shapes in the air. The rotator cuff muscles will be heavily active in this variation. Also, this simulates dynamic movement you have in sport very well. Some shape ideas – don’t forget the option of changing directions:
Circles and eights
Squares and crosses
Alternative Ways To Pallof Press With Resistance Bands
We have two variations to the versions we looked at so far, which will put an extra focus on the obliques.
Pallof Press to Side Bend – this is a combination of pallof pressing and side bending, which will really fire up the obliques.
How to do it:
- Extend your arms forward to full extension
- Lift your arms until they point up
- Bend your upper body away from the anchor point until your arms point to the side in a 45-degree angle
- Return slowly to the middle position
- Lower your arms so they point forward
- Bring the hands back in
- Repeat for reps (Don’t forget the other side!)
Pallof Press Hold To External Rotation – to really work your obliques with the pallof press, you can now add a rotational movement. Extend your arm forward and keep them extended throughout the exercise. Now bring your hands away from the anchor point by rotating the shoulders to the side. This is extra challenging because you increase the distance to the anchor point by moving your hands to the side, and this results in a higher resistance.
What Muscles Are Used In A Resistance Band Pallof Press
Resisting a rotation is quite a hard task for a human body. Therefore, it involves a lot of muscles to do so. The core is the main player, which consists out of the front and side ab muscles, as well as the glutes and the lower back muscles. In addition, the rotator cuff and the upper back muscles will be highly active and playing a supporting part in pallof pressing.
Main Working Muscles:
- Obliques (internal and external)
- Transverse Abdonminis
- Rectus Abdominis
- Erector Spinae
Secondary Muscles Working:
- Rotator Cuff Muscles
- Upper Back Muscles
Pallof presses can be implemented in workouts in various ways. I really enjoy adding it to my warming up, with a lighter resistance and a higher rep count. I aim for around 25 reps per side for 2 sets. Doing this prepares mine spine for any heavy work to come.
Of course, it is a great exercise to add to your core or ab workouts. Especially since it hits the obliques so well, and this is often neglected in ab training. Try to aim for a resistance there you will get at least 10 reps, better is 15.
But only training your core or doing pallof pressing is not a good way to get a functional and healthy body. A good and sustainable way is having a workout program which is tailored to your goals and hits every muscle in your body on a regular basis. Our dream is to provide people with a tool which helps them to achieve their fitness goals without investing a ton of time in research and trying a bunch of programs which just don’t work.
The maximum freedom of working out anywhere at any time, you get by using resistance bands as your primary tool for generating resistance. We want to give you an additional tool which will make your training structured and effective. This tool is called the BIQ Training App. It will provide you tailored workout routines depending on your goals and available days in a week. You will still have the hardest part – you guessed it – you have to follow along and actually do the exercises.
In addition, you will find single workouts, challenges and a filled exercise library – all that on your mobile in your pocket. Find out more here: BIQ Training App