Pallof Press

How To Do Pallof Presses + Variations
By Alli McKeeFebruary 19, 2016

Pallof Press Exercise

The Pallof press is a great anti-rotational core stability exercise for strengthening the musculature of the anterior core. The Pallof press is extremely versatile and can be performed in a standing square stance, split stance, kneeling, and half kneeling position. The cable or band attachments can be positioned at chest height (standard position), up high, or down low.

Equipment needed:

You need a resistance band or cable machine to perform the Pallof press exercise.

Ability level:


Beginners should start out with the square stance Pallof press as it is the easiest variation to perform, and can do 1-3 sets of 6-10 reps/side. Then, they can either add in 1 or 2 more sets, or can progress to the most advanced variations described below, or can add more weight. Beginners should use less resistance and should make sure that they use proper form before they add more reps, weight, and also perform more difficult variations. Beginners can opt for the cable Pallof press, or can do the band resisted variation.


Intermediate lifters can use the Pallof press at the beginning of a workout as a stability based warm-up exercise. It can also go at the end of the workout, after the more advanced compound exercises have been performed, or on its own or as part of a core training circuit. Intermediate lifters can do 3 sets of 8-10 repetitions per side of the Pallof press. Intermediate lifters can begin to use the split stance, kneeling and half kneeling variations, and can experiment with different cable/band heights.


Women who are comfortable with Pallof presses and all of the variations described above, can perform the most advanced variation of this exercise in which you adopt a half kneeling position, the arms are extended for 2 seconds, then lifted straight up for another 2 seconds. This adds in an anti-extension component to the exercise, and the half kneeling stance makes it much tougher to stabilize the body. You can also add additional weight.

Benefits of Pallof Presses:

How a woman chooses to use the Pallof press is highly dependent on her overall technical ability and experience, how much weight is used, the set/rep scheme used, where it falls in the workout, what it’s paired with, and what the rest periods are. In general, the Pallof press can be used to do any or all of the following:

  • increasing core strength, primarily in the anterior core and obliques
  • evening out asymmetries and imbalances between the left and right sides
  • reduced risk of injuries, particularly any that result from a weak anterior core and the subsequent pelvic and spinal stability

How to perform a Pallof Press:

While I am going to describe the square stance Pallof press and with the cable positioned at chest height, you can also use a split stance, kneeling and half kneeling stance, and can position the cable closer towards the ground or above the head.

  • Get in an athletic square stance. You should have a slight bend in your knees, and your feet should be hip to shoulder width apart.
  • Set the cable attachment so it is about chest height, grab the attachment with your outer hand (farthest away from cable machine), and lightly rest the fingertips of your inside hand on top of the other hand. This grip takes the inside arm out of the equation and really forces the core muscles to work much harder. When you extend your arms, the cable and your arms should form a 90 degree angle, so position your body accordingly.
  • As for your grip, I like to place the hands on top of each other as this makes the body more symmetrical. Placing one hand above (not on) the other causes one arm and shoulder to be slightly higher than the other.
  • Before you go take a deep breath into your belly (360 degrees of air around the spine), and as you extend your arms, forcefully exhale, actively tuck your rib cage towards your hips (close the space in your midsection), brace your core (I like to pretend that I'm about to block a soccer ball with my stomach), and lightly engage your glutes. Hold your arms in the extended position for 1-2 seconds before you bring them back to the starting position.
  • As you bring your arms back in towards your body, stop when your elbows touch your sides. Don't allow your hands or forearms to touch your anterior core. Many people make this mistake.
  • Relax your arms so they do not dominate the exercise.
  • Keep your shoulders pinned, and your shoulder blades drawn together and down (together and down towards your opposite hip). Do not allow yours shoulders to round or shrug.
  • Maintain a tripod foot (weight on the mid to back of your foot, and keep your big and baby toe down) for the duration of the exercise. This will dramatically improve your overall stability and ability to perform this exercise. You might even feel the glute of the forward leg, and this is a good thing.
  • Maintain proper alignment for the duration of the exercise. There should be no rotation occurring in your shoulders, torso or pelvis, and your body should not tilt laterally. It is very common for a person to compensate for lack of core stability by leaning their shoulders, torso and pelvis, away from the cable machine (site of the attachment). Your body should remain relatively vertical (can have a slight forward lean in your torso), and your spine should remain in a neutral position.
  • Do not allow your knee to collapse in or fall out.
  • Reset before each rep.
  • Choose a weight/band resistance that allows you to accomplish the above.

Video Transcription: 

The pallof press is one of my absolute favorite anti-rotation core exercises.  That means you are using your core to resist rotating.  You can do it with a band or cable and I am going to show you what it looks like with a band.  I generally set the band up around sternum height.  

A couple of things that are really important: feet are going to be pretty close together because when you set up in a pallof press and you press the weight out, the band is going to be pulling you in this direction and you are suppose to use your core to resist that movement.  The problem is that a lot of people who set up for a pallof press base out really wide because they don't feel stable.  In this instance they are using their stance for stability instead of using their core. You are going to start with your feet in line with your hip bones, you are going to grab the band or cable, your are going to make your shoulders are back and down, your rib cage is towards your pelvis and your glutes are tight. You are going to press it out there and roll it back in, press it out again (resisting this rotating motion), roll it back in, press it out, roll it back in.

A couple of things to keep in mind: don't let your shoulders creep up towards your ears so you are here  (a lot of time people will try to upper traps for stability instead of keeping their shoulders back and down),  And also don't let this (your shoulders twisting) happen.  So keep your shoulders nice and level. roll the band back in, glutes are tight, roll it back in.  

If this is too easy you have a couple of options: you can use a stronger band or you can step out farther. When you are out here there are a couple of different things you can do.  You can do circles, you can have someone do perturbations where they come around and knock your arm a little bit and you have to resist from moving from there, you can go up and down, side by side, you can step.  And that's the pallof press.


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About the author:  Alli McKee

Alli is a certified strength and conditioning specialist. She's contributed to and modeled for a number of major publications including Oxygen magazine and the New Rules of Lifting: Supercharged. You can find out more about Alli on her personal blog at

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