This exercise named after Physical Therapist John Pallof, has become one of my favorite core exercises. Why I feel this exercise has such value is because it can be done in several positions depending on your dysfunction. Whether you are standing, 1/2 kneeling, or tall kneeling, this exercise can also be used as a movement test to detect any left/right asymmetries. As I wrote previously in other posts, the core is more than just abdominals. The Pallof Press calls upon the entire core (lumbo-pelvic hip complex) to execute properly. The hips are key stabilizers in this exercise as well, which you will feel once you add some weight and hold the lower body static. Are you having problems creating stability in the lunge position, try half kneeling. Or maybe stability is an issue during squatting or deadlifting, than the tall kneeling/standing position fits you best. Remember the more joints you need to stabilize, the more difficult the exercise. That is why in most situations I have my clients start in the tall kneeling position and progress from there once it has been mastered. Make sure before you add weight that you are able to hold a perfect starting position with a tall posture and stationary lower body. Once you add weight and lock the hips in place, the resistance on the cable is going to want to pull the trunk into rotation. If the core is holding strong, we can prevent these forces and hold static. Here are a few videos to demonstrate.
Man are there a lot of people out there with some type of low back pain. I over hear it at the gym, and I’m told it during my initial meeting with clients on a daily basis. There is often the consensus that just by strengthening the core, pain will decrease or go away. Because obviously the pain is coming from some type of weakness right? No way!! In most cases, the pain at the lower back is not because there was originally something wrong with the lumbar spine itself, but other areas were not functioning properly and symptoms are displayed there. The first thing I think when I hear low back pain is thoracic spine and hips. How is motion at these joints? If the hips or thoracic spine are hypomobile, the lumbar spine needs to go through additional ranges of motion to make up for the lack of motion in the other areas. If motion is fine, it could possibly be a stability issue. No, I’m not talking about strength, but core stability. Do the intrinsic core muscles such as the multifidi, transverse abdominis, and intertransversarii group stabilize each segment properly? Or maybe they don’t display the reflex stabilization that core stabilizers should have. Notice I didn’t say they aren’t strong enough? Reflex stabilization is the ability for these muscles to turn on without us telling them. This is essential in the core for proper function and stability.
After all that do you still think it’s a strength issue? Stuart McGill, in his book Low Back Disorders, tests the lumbar spine musculature for endurance, not strength. These muscles need to contract for long periods of time throughout the day to maintain the body’s upright posture. So if you have low back pain, what is your issue? Could it be mobility, stability, or reflex stabilization? Stop thinking about strength as your cure and look at the whole picture. It could even be those crunches/sit-ups you do on a daily basis, but we won’t even go there!
The TRX Row is one of the most basic TRX exercises, and I believe the starting point to learn the necessary technique to use the TRX properly. What I love most about the TRX is that the core is always active throughout each exercise. Since you are not seated or supported at the back or chest like when using selectorized equipment or on a work-out bench, the core has to keep the spine in neutral alignment to be executed properly. Start with the straps in their shortest position. Dig your heels into the ground and lean back at a desired angle where you are challenged throughout the set. As opposed to regular strength training where we push the weight towards or away from the body, now you are the weight and pulling/pushing yourself towards/away from the straps. Make sure you maintain proper posture the entire time by squeezing your shoulder blades together, especially as you pull closer to the straps you need to pinch between the shoulders. Below is a video to demonstrate proper execution of the TRX row.