5 Powerful Pallof Press Alternatives

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Pallof presses can offer many benefits but you may want other options. What are some alternatives to Pallof presses with similar benefits?

Pallof presses are a resistance training exercise where you hold a cable machine handle in the gym or resistance bands at home while you face the anchor sideways.

While you move your hands forward and back you have to use your core muscles to stop yourself from rotating.

This exercise is mainly done to isolate your oblique muscles which in turn means that Pallof presses can help you build muscle mass, burn calories, and offer other typical exercise benefits.

Whether you don’t enjoy Pallof presses, you want to use other fitness equipment, or you want an alternative for any other reason, these alternatives to Pallof presses can offer you some or all of the same benefits.

Keep in mind that implementing these alternatives can offer benefits but like any exercise, there is always some risk of injury. Especially some of these exercises with spine rotation are not for everyone.

Implement a good technique to keep your injury risk low. When in doubt talk to an expert.

1. Renegade rows

To do a renegade row with dumbbells take the following steps:

  1. Place the dumbbells on the ground at about shoulder-width and the grips at horizontal lines with each other.
  2. Get into the position where your face is facing the floor with your hands on the dumbbell grips. Your arms stretched, and your knees on the ground.
  3. Move your feet back until your body is in a straight line. If you notice you need more stability during the exercise you can put your feet slightly more apart.
  4. Raise one dumbbell upward until it is at the height of your upper body. Keep your elbow close to your body and mainly use your back muscles for this movement.
  5. Lower the dumbbell back into the position of step 3 and raise the dumbbell on the other side in the same way.

Renegade rows are typically done to strengthen upper back muscles which does not sound like a good Pallof press alternative. However, you also engage similar core muscles during renegade rows.

If you are completely not interested in building upper back muscle, you can also do renegade with just your body weight to mainly focus on your obliques.

How to do a renegade row

2. Wood chop exercise

For the wood chop exercise you will need some type of suited resistance. A dumbbell or other free weights like a kettlebell, sandbags, medicine ball, etc. are great but you can definitely also use a resistance band at home or a cable machine in the (home) gym.

To do a wood chop with a dumbbell take the following steps:

  1. Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart. Let your arms with the dumbbell in your arms hang down for now.
  2. Bring up the dumbbell to one side while keeping your arms slightly less than stretched. If needed you can turn your hips too. For this, you will likely need to lift the heel of one foot off the ground.
  3. Swing the dumbbell down and to the other side, again keeping your arms slightly less than stretched. Make sure you can still control the weight at the bottom of the movement. Again you can twist your hips if needed.

Make sure you don’t twist too far and keep your back straight to avoid any injuries. Especially if you have a sensitive back you want to turn your hips to avoid twisting your spine too far. Even then, this Pallof press alternative is not for everyone.

When you first give the wood chop exercise a try, swing slow to see where you are at in terms of being able to control the movement. After that, you can gradually increase the intensity of the exercise in safe steps.

How to do a wood chop exercise

3. Bicycle crunches

For bicycle crunches you preferably want a yoga mat or other soft surface to lie on. To do a bicycle crunch take the following steps:

  1. Lie down on your back with a 90-degree angle in both your hips and knees. Hold your hands against the side of your head with your elbows pointing sideways.
  2. Raise your shoulders and push your lower back against the ground with the help of your ab muscles.
  3. Slightly turn your upper body to one side and reach with your elbow to the knee of the opposite side (for example your left elbow to your right knee) while stretching the leg of the side of the elbow you use while still keeping it off the ground (continuing the example stretching your left leg).
  4. Bring the stretched leg back into the starting position and repeat with the other side. Keep your shoulders off the ground during the exercise.

Keep your movements slow and controlled to make your core muscles really work hard and to avoid bad technique.

Bicycle crunches are a more all-around core exercise compared to Pallof presses. This exercise will help you train both obliques and abs.

If the bodyweight version of bicycle crunches is too easy for you, you can hold some type of weight against your upper chest.

How to do a bicycle crunch

4. Side plank with rotation

To do a side plank rotation take the following steps:

  1. Sit sideways on the ground leaning on one of your lower arms with the upper arm of that arm vertical to support your upper body.
  2. Walk away from your upper body with your feet until you can put your body in a straight side plank. Point your highest arm in the air.
  3. Slowly move the arm in the air down and under your body as far as comfortable while rotating your upper body. Keep your hips at more or less the same height during this movement.
  4. Return your body into the position of step 2 in a controlled motion.
  5. Repeat the same number of repetitions while leaning on your other arm.

The side plank part works part of the oblique muscles isometrically to keep your body in a side plank position. The rotation works part of the oblique muscles similar to the Pallof press.

One downside of side plank rotations as a Pallof press alternative is that it is harder to make the bodyweight version more challenging.

Individuals more experienced with oblique training may not be able to build a lot of muscle with side plank rotations.

How to do a side plank rotation

5. Russian twists

The Russian twist engages the same muscles as the Pallof press uses to keep your body from twisting. On top of that Russian twists also engage your abs. To do two Russian twist repetitions take the following steps:

  1. You start sitting down on the ground with your legs bent at the knees and your feet hovering above the ground. Make sure your back is straight and at about a 45-degree angle with the ground.
  2. Slightly twist your upper body to one side and then the other.
  3. Return to starting position.

Make sure you don’t twist too far and keep your back straight to avoid any injuries. Even with the right technique Russian twists are not for everyone. If you have any back, neck, or shoulder issues you likely want to pass on this exercise.

To make this Pallof press alternative weighted you can use oblique workout equipment like dumbbells, a weight plate, a medicine ball, any compact and heavy objects you can find at home, etc. to make them more challenging.

How to do a Russian twist
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Matt Claes founded Weight Loss Made Practical to help people get in shape and stay there after losing 37 pounds and learning the best of the best about weight loss, health, and longevity for over 4 years. Over these years he has become an expert in nutrition, exercise, and other physical health aspects.