Whenever you hear the term ‘rotary stability’, it basically means you’re fighting to keep your spine in a neutral position against external rotational forces. One of the best exercises you can do for rotary stability is the pallof press.
When you perform a pallof press, the idea is to keep your hands in line with your sternum (middle of your chest) as you perform the press. The cable (or band) will pull and twist your body out of position, causing your obliques to contract to fight this motion. It’s a solid exercise on it’s own, but there are plenty of ways to spice things up to make it even more incredible.
First things first, master the basics.
If you can’t perform the following variations perfectly, there’s no point trying out the advanced versions.
First up, tall kneeling. This is as basic as it gets.
Next, you have your half kneeling version… a slight step up in terms of difficulty.
And finally to standing.
If you can’t master these, ignore everything else about to follow.
From here, you can take these same principles and add in a few twists to get a little bit more bang for your buck. Take note, the idea of keeping your hands in line with your chest applies to all these variations.
Adding an overhead reach to your standard pallof press is a nice way to continue to train rotary stability, but it a totally different plane of motion with regards to your upper body. You might be good at resisting rotation with your hands level with your chest, but BOY HOWDY it’s a different story when you take your hands above your head.
Plus, this is a nice way to add in some overhead reaching to a program, which can be beneficial for long term shoulder health.
Another thing you can do is incorporate some lower intensity mobility work for the lower body as you train the pallof press. By performing lateral lunges while isometrically holding your press, you’ll be getting some nice frontal plane (side to side) movement… and when it comes to hip health, this is something a lot of people desperately need more of.
This movement would work nicely as a filler between sets on your upper body days. Because it’s a bodyweight movement, the intensity will be low enough where it won’t interfere with your more demanding upper body pressing or pulling.
You can also perform this movement in the reverse fashion where you isometrically hold a lateral lunge while performing presses.
You can also swap lateral lunges/squats for bilateral squats or reverse lunges, as these are also pretty awesome choices.
As if these weren’t enough, you can get really fancy and add a perturbative element (oh baby, sounds dirty) to your presses.
This is just fancy talk for ‘we’re gonna add some instability and shake you around a little bit’.
Tie a band to a sturdy attachment point and then slide a 5 or 10lb onto the band. Assume whatever position you want to (tall kneeling, half kneeling, standing, split stance, etc) and press out explosively. The plate will then slingshot back and forth in a somewhat unpredictable fashion.
The swinging plate will force you to stay tight and react to external instability. This will up the ante to your regular pallof press just a wee bit.
Give them a shot!