Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Supine Pallof Press aka The SC Press (patent pending).

This is an exercise I came up with a few days ago. As far as I am aware I invented it, as I haven't seen it before. However, if someone else happened to come up with this first don't write to me, I'm sure there is nothing really new in fitness.

The SC Press - how it came about.

A couple of days a go I was working with an exercise referral client, and he was having all sorts of trouble with the pallof press (see video below for standard Pallof press), his knees were too bent, hips too flexed and shoulder position was off. He couldn't kneel down due to knee surgery, therefore half kneeling and tall kneeling versions were not an option.

So I came up with a supine (laying down on your back) version - The SC Press.

With this version quite a few things became easier to coach. Firstly, no kneeling down, so no knee pain. Secondly, it's easier to grasp the concept of neutral spine and bracing, and easier for me to check the lumbar spine to make sure it wasn't imprinted or too curved. And lastly, it was easier to cue the idea of packing the shoulders down and the neck, with the floor giving automatic feedback. If the shoulder girdle is protracting too much, its easy too see and cue the shoulders to be pulled back and down. And the head forward posture is corrected straight away because the head is on the floor.

Plus the core seems to be working harder.

When I got my colleagues to try it out, we all agreed that it seemed to work the core a lot more than the standard standing Pallof press. Maybe, it's because the legs are taken out of the equation, so the core has to work harder, but we could all feel our rectus abdominis (6 pack, 8 pack, 1 pack, depending on who you are) and obliques working hard.

Shoulder Position.

Yesterday, I tried this with another client who has shoulder issues and normally has trouble with the concept of shoulder packing. But with this exercise she grasped the idea of shoulder packing straight away, as the floor is giving feedback and she felt her core working harder as well.

Why call it The SC Press?

The Romanians have the deadlift, Arnie has the Arnie shoulder press and Bret Contreras has the hip thrust, so I'm claiming the SC Press. It could stand for 'Supine Core Press' or 'Static Core Press', and SC also happens to be my initials (Steve Collins), what are the chances?!

How to do it.

Set the cable hand up at chest height. I tried other heights, but this worked best for me.

Press out cable and hold statically. Keep the lumbar spine neutral and the core braced. In the video you can see I check the curve in my back with one hand. I could only do this as it was a light weight for filming purposes, you wont be able to do this with a heavy weight.

Keep the shoulders packed, the neck packed and keep breathing!

If you don't have a cable, then use a band.

Three possible leg positions:

  1. Both legs straight. As the hip flexors are lengthened here, it can put more curve in the lower back than when the legs are bent, so you may have to work harder to keep neutral, and it is also harder to use your legs to brace in this position.
  2. One leg bent/ Turkish get up position. I bent the leg that is nearest the cable column to try and mimic the turkish get up where the weight is in the hand on the side the leg is bent. You could try the other leg bent. You could even try one arm holding the cable as well.
  3. Both legs bent. When we tried the various versions out most people seem to find this hardest, however, some people find the leg straight version harder. The glutes seem to work harder in this version as the feet and press into the floor to help stabilise you. Experiment, see what works for you.
You can hold this for 10 secs or 30 secs or try transitioning leg positions while still pressing the weight out. I imagine this would be good conditioning for floor based martial arts like Brazilian Ju Jitsu or MMA.

In the video below, Nick is doing the bent leg version static hold for 60 seconds.

In summary

An anti rotation exercise that works the core, especially the obliques and helps clients to grasp the idea of neutral spine, core bracing and shoulder packing and enables the trainer to check positioning.

Give it a go, thought I'd share it with you. Remember The SC Press, The Supine Core Press or The Static Core Press, you heard it hear first (probably, if not, you heard it somewhere else), a cool new core exercise.

I'd still use standing versions of the pallof press to integrate core strength and leg strength and help root yourself into the ground, generating power into the floor. But to really target the core and take the legs out of the equation try the SC Press.

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