Are you confused by the thought of starting an exercise program? Maybe you will still start by running on a treadmill, joining a kettlebell class, lifting weights at your local gym, or utilizing a home based system like P90x. With so many options, it's hard to know where to begin.
Regardless of what "system" or "program" you use, there is one important exercise you MUST start with.
As a Fitness Coach, every new client I work with begins with this exercise. If you are starting a fitness program, I suggest you start with this exercise too. This exercise sets the stage for many other exercises.
The exercise is called the Palloff press, and it targets your core. When most people think of training their core, they think of exercises like crunches and sit-ups. The Palloff press trains the core in a way that is far more beneficial than crunches. It teaches and strengthens core stability. Core stability is what is required during other powerful exercises.
But that's not the whole story, the Palloff press can do more than just strengthen core stability. It helps you identify the position where your pelvis and spine are neutral. I call this position "home base."
This "home base" position is the correct starting point for movement. Maintaining this position, properly aligns your muscles. This allows for complete muscular engagement, and maximum results during exercise! Whether you are lunging, squatting, doing push-ups, or deadlifts, without this position, it is impossible to fully benefit from these exercises.
This neutral position may feel foreign, and maintaining it during movements like lunges is challenging. However, using the Palloff press to identify and strengthen this neutral position, will deliver huge dividends.
How to perform the Palloff Press.
1. Use a cable machine, or resistance band anchored at your side to create lateral tension.
2. Hold the handle of the cable or resistance band at sternum height.
3. Extend your arms outward in front of you. As you extend your arms, use your core to "brace" and keep your body straight (you are resisting the rotational forces created by the band). Keep your hands in line with your sternum the entire time (again resisting the rotational force from the band). Hold your arms extended for 3-4 seconds. Your core will be forced to engage to maintain this position and stop you from rotating.
4. Return your hands towards your chest to lessen the tension on your core.
5. Repeat 5-10 times.
Identify your neutral pelvis and spine with the following steps.
1. With your arms are extended in the Palloff press, draw your belly button towards your spine.
2. Squeeze your glutes tight (butt muscles).
3. Stand tall. Imagine someone drawing you upward towards the ceiling by your hair.
4. Find the pelvic position where the contraction in your abdominal muscles is the most intense. This is done by altering the position of your pelvis. Pull the front of your pelvis (your pubic bone) upward, and your tail bone downward (tuck your tail). Tilt your pelvis back and forth, until you settle on the position where the contraction in your abdominal muscles is the most intense. This is your neutral pelvis! This is the position you will attempt to maintain during other exercises!
Remember, you can use the Palloff press as its own core exercise. But more importantly, use it to discover your "home base" so you maximize other exercises.