Exercises You Should Be Doing: Pallof to Overhead Press

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I’m going to start today with a little side story. I remember a few months ago I was training at a commercial gym here in Boston, and I had some random dude approach me in between sets of 1-Legged SLDLs (stiff-legged deadlifts).

I can’t recall verbatim the exact conversation, but I’m pretty sure it went something like this:

Him: Huh, that’s interesting. I’ve never seen those before. What does that exercise work, your core or something?

Me: *chuckles* Well, I suppose it does to a degree. Mostly it works single leg strength – specifically the posterior chain.

Him: Oh, I’m sorry, I don’t speak French.

Me: Translation: Your hamstrings and glutes.

Him: (blank stare) Cool, I’m gonna go do my last 43 sets of bicep curls. Good talk.

Me: Alright my man, I’ll be right over there lighting my face on fire.

It never ceases to amaze me that whenever someone sees something they’re not familiar with, they automatically assume it trains their core. I can’t say that I blame the guy who approached me; he didn’t know any better. Besides, at the end of the day, if we wanted to be nit picky about it, any “functional” exercise does train the core; indirectly, at least.

Using another (albeit opposite) example, my girlfriend was at the gym the other day, and a trainer (I repeat: a trainer. Someone who presumably passed an accredited test to train people) approached her and asked if the exercise she was doing worked the triceps. She was doing Split Stance (half kneeling) Cable Lifts.

She didn’t really know what to say other than, “uh, no.” Nevertheless, if there ever was a face palm moment, that was it.

In any case, the moral of the story is that people are always looking for new and cool ways to train their core. And their triceps, apparently.

As many of you know, I despise sit-ups and crunches, for obvious reasons. If you need an explanation, I’d suggest looking up the name Dr. Stuart McGill, and go from there. Considering the fact that each sit-up you perform places roughly 760 lbs of compressive load on the lumbar spine (not to mention does absolutely nothing as far as helping you attain a lean mid-section), you can understand my point of view.

Moreover, if we were to look at the main FUNCTIONS of the core (in this case, rectus abdominus, external/internal obliques), we’d find the following:

– Anti- Flexion

– Anti- Extension

– Anti-Lateral Flexion

– Rotary stability (resisting hoop stress)

– Posterior Pelvic Tilt

Sure there are exceptions to the rule, but for all intents and purposes, the name of the game is stability. To that end, here’s a brand new variation of the Pallof Press that I came across the other day:

What Is It: Pallof to Overhead Press

Who Did I Steal It From: Marco Sanchez of Mike Boyle’s Strength and Conditioning

What Does It Do: Other than make people think you’re working your chest and triceps (hahaha, see what I just did there?), it trains anti-flexion and anti-lateral flexion/rotation.

Is That a Beard On My Face: Absolutely. It’s coming off this weekend, though.

Key Coaching Cues: To start, I’d prefer that people slow down the tempo on this one (as shown in the video), but you can certainly speed it up a bit to provide a different training stimulus.

Assume an athletic position (chest tall, hips back, brace abs), and perform a normal Pallof Press, pushing the cable AWAY from your body resisting the pull of the cable throughout. Pause. Then “press” (you’re not really pressing) the weight over your head, again, resisting the pull of the cable.

Perform 8-10 repetitions, switch, and repeat on the opposite side.

Try it today, and let me know what you think!

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Plus, get a copy of Tony’s Pick Things Up, a quick-tip guide to everything deadlift-related. See his butt? Yeah. It’s good. You should probably listen to him if you have any hope of getting a butt that good.

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Comments for This Entry

  • Paul Bruce

    This looks a great exercise. It's nice to see the Pallof concept being extended to the other branches of core stability. If you don't have a cable column, you can easily use a TRX, or set of blast straps or rings to mimic the antirotation press (as you've shown before) and anti-lateral flexion press (similarly, but pressing the straps overhead, rather that in front - a la Dewey Nielsen). But would there be some way to mimic the anti-flexion component with TRX straps? I'd love to find an alternative that can be done when you don't have access to a cable column (to do myself or to recommend clients who can't get to the gym too often), but I'm not sure how that could be done.

    March 5, 2015 at 4:30 pm | Reply to this comment

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