A personal trainer demonstrating a Palloff Press, a anti-rotational core exercise.


    Welcome back to Part 3 on how you can train your core better. 

With today’s article, I will talk about how you can get started with anti-rotation core exercises. 

The last two articles were about anti-extension, in the supine and prone position. If you have not read those yet, go and read them here: go and read them here:  PART 1 & PART 2 

If you are all caught up, let’s get into anti-rotation. 

So what is anti-rotation?

When I speak of anti-rotation, I am talking about the lumbar spine, also known as the low back. 

The lumbar spine only has a couple degrees of rotation, compared to the thoracic spine which has about 30 degrees. 

So to keep the low back safe and healthy, the core’s job is to prevent unwanted movement. 

Certain activities like shoveling, raking, putting away dishes, or turning around in the car because of your kids, can put stress on the low back with rotation. 

Having a stable core can reduce these stressors. 

You can train the core to be more stable with the rotational forces by anti-rotational movements. 

Movements like russian twists, especially the quick and explosive ones are doing more harm than good. The low back is in constant stress from the rotational forces. 

No stability is being worked with these movements. 

Alright, let’s get into the core exercises. 

Step 1: Tall Kneeling Pallof Press

This exercise you can either use a superband or cable machine. Both are great options, depending on what you have access to. 

The height of your band or cable should be waist level, or when you are on both knees (tall kneeling) it should be chest level. 

The band/cable will be on the side of you, and you will be on both knees while being tall. Think of a straight line with your knees, hips, and shoulders. 

Your body will be perpendicular to the cable/band that you are using, grab your handles with both hands, and place it in the middle of your chest. 

Brace your core, clench your buttcheeks and slowly push the handle away from you till your arms are straight. 

Do not let the force of the cable/band pull you, keep the handle straight in the middle of your chest and focus on your breathing. Do not hold your breath. 

You can either do these for reps, or hold the handle away from you for time. Both are good options, just start small. 

If you want to do reps, start with 5 on each side. If you want to do it for time, start with 10 seconds on each side. From there slowly add reps or time and then add weight. If you are using a band, you can add tension by moving farther away or grabbing a thicker band. 

Step 2: ½ Kneeling Pallof Press

You will start this exercise with one knee on the ground, and the other leg in front of you with the foot flat on the ground. The cable/band that you are using will be on the side with the knee on the ground. 

With the band/cable on your side (perpendicular) grab the handles with both hands, and bring it to the middle of your chest. 

In the ½ kneeling stance, the core is having to work more to prevent rotation of the low back, and now the pelvis. 

You can also do these for reps or for time. Just be sure to not go so heavy it makes your body twist. You want a straight line from the bottom of the knee to the top of your head. Your hands will be directly in front of you as you push out. 

Use the last step as a guide on where you can start with this variation. It will be a little harder so use less weight/tension and go from there with 3 sets of 5 reps or 3 sets of 10 second holds. 

Step 3: ½ Kneeling Chop & Lift 

These are two different exercises, and the reason I have them together is that they are the same movement, just in opposite directions. The difficulty level of both are the same and they work the same muscles, just in different ways. 

You will begin both exercises in a half-kneeling stance with the cable machine or band to the side of you. 

With the chop exercise, you will have the machine/band on the side of the up leg, and for the lift exercise it will be opposite. You will have the machine/band on the side of the bottom leg. 

So let’s talk about the chop exercise first. 

In your half kneeling stance, grab the cable or band with both hands and pull the handle down to your chest. 

Press the handle down and across your body to the hip with the down leg. Your arms should be straight with a small rotation in the upper back, while the low back is stable. Slowly bring the handles back to the chest and back to your starting position. 

The movement goes diagonally across your body, over your shoulder to your hip on the opposite side. 

Your half kneeling lift is the opposite. Hence the name, you are lifting diagonally across your body. You will start with the cable down by your hip, the knee is on the ground, and you will pull the handles to your chest, then press the handles upward across your body till your arms are fully extended. Slowly return the handles back to your chest and then back to your starting position. 

Both exercises are great to work the core and specifically prevent rotation in the low back. 

You do not have to do both exercises at the same time, pick one for a few weeks, then switch to the other. 

Start with 3 sets of 5 reps and work up to 10 reps. Start with low weight till you are comfortable with the movement, but don’t go so heavy that your form becomes compromised. 

Step 4: Standing Pallof Press with Overhead Raise 

Last one for the anti-rotation series. There are more, but this gives you a nice introduction to this core category. 

This last exercise is to bring back the pallof press, but you are standing while raising your arms overhead. 

The overhead part of this exercise is what makes this more difficult. It will make the whole body work together to prevent any movement in your legs, hips, and torso. 

With the cable/band on the side of you, grab the handles with both hands and pull it to your chest. Create tension in the legs, squeeze your butt, and brace your core. 

Go ahead and slowly push the handle away from you till your arms are straight in front of you. 

With straight arms, slowly raise your arms till it is overhead and pause. After the short pause slowly return back to your starting position. 

During the whole movement, be sure the handle is not steering away from the middle of your body, even with the overhead raise. 

Keep the weight low on this one and start with 3 sets of 5 reps on each side. Slowly build up the reps and then slowly build up the weight. 

    Try these steps out and slowly progress for each step to work on your anti-rotation core work. I promise if you keep with it, you will see a big change in how you move and how you feel. You can also expect to see an improvement in your performance for strength, power, and if you are an athlete, performance on the field. 

If you have any questions or need help with anything, reach out to me at caruthers.fitness21@gmail.com. I am happy to help. 

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