Exercise of the Week - Pallof Press
The Pallof Press (a.k.a the Belly Press) is a great
anti-rotation exercise that was first described by physical therapist John
Pallof and made popular by guys like Eric Cressey and Mike Robertson. It's
one of those exercises that almost anyone can do in some form or another. Learning to resist rotation is crucial for protecing the low back. This can easily be added to any 'back program' along with increasing available hip and thoracic rotation. Remember that the lumbar spine is normally capable of <10 deg rotation. We need great hip and t-spine mobility along with lumbar stability.
The goal of the exercise is to maintain a neutral spine in an athletic
position while resisting a rotation stimulus. In the videos I'm using
the Kaiser Trainer but this can be done with bands, partner assisted with a
towel, or with manual perterbations. Allow the athlete to start with a
wider base to get the feel and narrow from there. The athlete presses the
arms out straight creating a greater rotation force that the hips and trunk must
resist. Personally I prefer to narrow the base rather than try to jack up
the weight. I have noticed greater upper trap recruitment with higher weight which is a normal compensation. Be sure the neck and traps are relaxed and cue the athlete to crush the handle or tighten their grip on whatever. Focusing on grip will reflexively fire the cuff and increase stability decreasing the need for the upper trap compensatory strategy.
Try this one for yourself and see how your glutes and obliques feel the next
Single Leg Pallof Press
I'm a big fan of this one and will progress to it quickly. Obviously
the weight needs to be significantly less to do this properly but talk about
learning to control your body. Nothing like an exercise that gives you
instant feedback and results in immediate corrections. That being said, be sure that the athlete is comfortable controlling the start position first so a 10 second static hold is a good idea.
Press Variations: just a few thoughts I had while
writing this. Why not try the Pallof Press with a split stance, in tall or
half kneeling? Might be a nice complement to chops and lifts.
Something I'll be playing around with on Monday I'm sure.