To perform the basic variation set yourself up parallel to a cable machine. From here, take a step backwards so that when you extend your arms your hands are aligned with the machine. Grasp the handle with both hands and bring them to the center of your chest. Bend your knees and keep a balanced position throughout.
Now, press your arms out straight ahead and then bring them back in to your chest in a controlled manner. You'll notice that the further the resistance gets from your body the harder it is to resist rotation and stabilize your core. The video below shows the proper set up and tempo.
You can get extremely creative with the tempo on this exercise. In the next video I perform a rep with a 10 second isometric hold. You can perform an isometric hold in the middle, or you can change the tempo in which your hands go away from and return to your body. All these changes will increase the difficulty of the exercises.
When adding tempo changes it's important not to let the total duration of each set exceed ~45 seconds. If you can do a Pallof press variation for 1-2 minutes each side then it's time to increase the weight. With the 10 second isometric hold I recommend doing 3 sets of 3 reps/side.
Performing an isometric hold and changing the position of your body can also make this exercise dramatically more challenging. Again, on variations like this it is important not to pick a weight that is too heavy.
In addition to anti-extension core work, the Pallof press can also be used as an anti-lateral flexion exercise when the press is performed overhead. This variation also has elements of anti-extension because as you go overhead you want to keep the spine neutral and out of extension. Bracing the core and squeezing the glutes will help prevent this.
Bands work great with all of these exercises as well, if don't have access to a cable machine. Give these a try next time your in the gym so that you can get a more stable core!
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