When we train abs, it’s often the staples that are used. Planks, crunch variations, maybe, maybe a side plank thrown in for good measure. And that’s all fine and dandy, but there is one category missing: anti-rotation. The ability to resist the twist is an important one, helping keep your torso in a front facing position against loads, which protects your spine, and keeps you hips happy as they don’t have to take the strain as much.
While there are a few different options for training anti-rotation, for example this, or this, I love the Pallof press as it’s easy to learn and is more adjustable and has a lower barrier of entry than something like an anti rotation plank. It’s scaleable with loading or stance (split stance, half kneeling or standing) and you can feel it working the target areas which give great feedback on performance.
The problem is, that as good as the standard version is, it does get a bit samey, and variety helps keep things more interesting.
Here is the standard version, plus 3 other options to try.
The Standard Pallof press
This is a great exercise to train your ability to resist rotation. While the load stays the same, regardless of whether you use a band or a cable stack, the rotational effect changes due to the change in lever length as you press out and back. The further out you press, the greater the lever, the bigger the rotation you need to resist.
- Set up in a square stance, knees soft, hips slightly tucked under your ribs.
- Grip the band with your outermost hand, and wrap the other over the top.
- Starting with your hands around your belly button, press out in a straight line, resisting the pull of the band on your arms.
- Keep your shoulders down and the inside of your elbows pointing up.
This variation is ideally suited to bands as it uses the elastic properties of the band to change the loading while keeping the lever length the same.
- Set up as you would for the standard Pallof.
- Keep the band held at arms length, then let the band pull your hands towards your side closest to the anchor point, without twisting your body.
- Then drag the band across your torso towards your other side. You’ll feel the band tighten and the effective load increase.
Band step outs
Similar to the pulses above, you are using the changes in band tension to change the load as you move out and back through your reps.
- Maintain a triangle between your torso and arms, don’t let this shape change as you move.
- Drive off the inside foot, and stay as upright as you can.
- On the way back, sink into the trail leg (outside leg) to help decelerate the step back to the start position.
- Don’t do it on ice and snow as it sucks.
This variation is a little different as it primarily trains your ability to resist lateral flexion, but turning your torso through 45 degrees will add an anti rotation component as well. Either way you choose to set up, you’ll train the same musculature as the other Pallofs.
- Set up with a split stance with your leg closest to the anchor point forward.
- Grip the band as you would with other variations and this time press straight up.
- As you go higher, the band wants to pull your over, your job is to resist.
- Use a smaller range of movement/lighter band to start as necessary.
For each of these options, start with 2-3 sets of 8-10 reps per side
Give these a try to help give a more comprehensive midsection workout as well as to build more strength through your glutes and you’ll feel the benefits in no time at all.