Strength Basics

Getting stronger, fitter, and healthier by sticking to the basics. It's not rocket science, it's doing the simple stuff the right way. Strength-Basics updates every Monday, plus extra posts during the week.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Ab Exercises I Always Use: the Pallof Press

There are a number of ab exercises I avoid, in general. Crunches and full sit-ups show up rarely in my own training and almost never in my clients' training. Russian twists make an occasional appearance. Ab rollers, never.

Some exercises show up in everyone's workouts. This is one:

The Pallof Press

Named for Physical Therapist John Pallof, this exercise is a winner.

Basically you extend the cable, as seen in the video, lengthening the lever arm of the resistance. Your abdominal muscles must fire to keep you from rotating. It's rare for clients to come to me with strong anti-rotation strength. It's common for them to come with one weak side and one stronger side. It's also common for them to come with compensation patterns and aches and pains from using other muscles to try to resist unwanted rotation or absorb the shock of rotational force.

What kind of rotational force? Golf swing impacts, baseball swings, throws, punches, stopping a guard pass, etc.

My favorite variation is the Pallof Press 2.0

Generally I use that as demonstrated, or I'll have the client hold it rigid while I pluck the tube or band like a harp string. I do these standing, squatting, in a split stance, kneeling tall, or kneeling on one knee.

This is an exercise you want to start out easy on. Go very light and work up very slowly. It's more about endurance than max effort, and you want to ensure your abs fire and you aren't finding another way to shove the cable around.

My typical progression is:

3 sets of 10 reps with a 2-second pause.
3 sets of 5 reps with a 5-second pause.
3 sets of 10 reps with a 3-second pause.
Go up in weight and start again.

For the 2.0, I do the above progression with a given tube. Once we've hit the heavier tube we have, we go to time:

20 second hold each side, no movement.
30 second hold each side, no movement.
20 second hold each side, with shaking.
30 second hold each side, with shaking.

I'll progress all the way up to the top of each progression with standing before I start adding in kneeling, half kneeling, etc. unless I detect a specific issue.

You won't feel this one so much, but just worry about the progression and you will find your ability to deal out and resist rotation will improve.

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