What Are Anti Rotation Exercises?
Anti rotation exercises might seem backasswards to you. After all, golfers need to rotate to hit the golf ball, right?
Wouldn’t we as golfers want to work on exercises that will improve rotational speed?
If so, what is with all hype about anti rotation exercises?
There are good reasons that anti rotation exercises belong in a golf fitness program.
Sure we all want to swing the golf club as fast as we can. But in reality, you can’t swing a golf club any quicker until you have the strength to stop the swing without hurting your back or shoulder.
Anti rotation exercises strengthen muscles that are responsible for slowing and stopping rotation.
Having stronger core muscles will also allow you to have better control over your swing.
That is why anti rotational exercises are important to golfers.
Another reason I recommend the Pallof Press is that some of the leading rotational sport (golf, baseball, hockey, tennis) trainers use these exercises, trainers such as Eric Cressey, Tony Gentilcore, Mike Boyle and Jason Glass.
If these strength & conditioning coaches use anti rotation exercises for their professional athletes, I think it makes sense that the Pallof Press and its variations are excellent exercises for golfers.
The Pallof Press requires limited equipment, it’s easy to perform, and it activates the core muscles and glutes, which are the Queen and King muscles of the golf swing, respectfully.
For these reasons, you should include the Pallof Press in your exercise routine.
Anti Rotation Exercises the Pallof Press Variations
The easiest way to explain a Pallof Press is to see one being performed. I have included several videos of Pallof Press variations below.
But before we watch the videos, let me describe what you should be looking for as they play.
Pallof Presses can be performed using resistance tubing, resistance bands, or a cable machine.
Normally I am all about the cable machine, but for the Pallof Press, I think that resistance tubing is the best tool because it is easier to adjust the tension by moving away from or closer to the attachment point than it is to find the perfect weight on the cable machine.
If you don’t have a good set of resistance bands, I suggest Bodylastic Bands. You can purchase those through my affiliate site; I would appreciate the small commission the sale would give me. Check out Bodylastic bands at Amazon.
Another band that I’m starting to like as much as the Bodylastic bands is the FMT Band or Grey Cook Band. These are very popular with golf fitness professionals due to their quality.
The exercise is simple to do and is one of the best anti rotation exercises. In this article, I will explain the exercise assuming you’re using resistance tubing to keep the narrative simple.
Perform all Pallof Press variations in the same way except for the starting stance.
Here are the steps:
- Attach a band to a stable anchor at shoulder height. Attach a D-handle grip to the tubing (FMT bands have attached loops).
- Face your body perpendicular to the attachment point, in other words; your shoulders should be in line with the band or cable. One shoulder should be closer to the attachment point than the other.
- Grasp the handle, so the back of the hand closest to the attachment point is facing the attachment point. If you swing your arm towards the attachment, you will slap it on the back of your hand. You can place your other hand on the grip in whatever position feels most comfortable.
- Step away from the attachment point with your hands held close to your chest. There should be tension on the band at this point.
- Your legs should be in an athletic position, shoulder width apart a little more upright than your golf stance.
- Tighten your core and clench your butt to activate the glutes.
- Your shoulders should be square to your hips, and both should be perpendicular to the attachment point.
- This is the starting position.
- Slowly push your hands straight out from your chest until your elbows lock. Hold this position for a few seconds.
- Slowly pull your hands back to your chest.
- The point is to resist the band from twisting your body towards the attachment point. Your spine should be vertical and not lean toward the attachment point; your shoulders shouldn’t turn towards the attachment point at all. Resist the twisting motion.
- Make sure your knees don’t buckle in. They should remain in line with your lower leg and thigh. If your knees do buckle, you need to use less tension.
- Not only will this exercise work your core, but you will also feel it in your butt and hamstrings.
- It is important to not use too much tension or weight as your form is more important than the weight or tension you can resist.
- Do 8 to 10 of these Pallof Presses on one side then face in the opposite direction and do 8 to 10 more reps.
Although this exercise does mostly train the core in the twisting (transverse) plane, I think it also strengthens the muscles responsible for side to side (frontal plane) motion.
Pallof Press Video the First of the Anti Rotation Exercises
The video below is from Tony Gentilcore. I am sorry for the sunlight in the video, I try to pick the best videos available, but his video does the best job showing the exercise even with the distracting light.
Tony is quite a ways from the microphone so you might have to turn up the volume a little. But again, his explanation is the best and worth the listen. In the video, he discusses the most common errors, such as buckling knees and using too much weight.
Standing Spilt-Stance Pallof Press
Once you get the standing Pallof Press down, don’t start adding more weight or tension to the exercise.
Instead, make your base more unstable. The core and glutes will have to work harder to keep the shoulders and hips stable.
The only difference is the starting position and I use two variations. First the easier position.
Place the foot of the leg further away from the anchor point behind you, stay on the toes of that foot. The position is a semi-lunge position.
Remember to keep the shoulders and hips square to each other and perpendicular to the anchor point. Remember to switch legs.
Once this position becomes easier for you, change the starting position by placing the foot of the leg closer to the anchor point behind you.
This starting position really works the core and front leg glute to keep your body stable.
Half-kneeling Pallof Press
The starting position for the half-kneeling Pallof Press is to have the knee closest to the anchor point on the floor. The opposite leg should be at 90° with the knee over the top of the ankle.
The motion in the exercise is the same. But you’ll find this one much harder.
If it is too hard, try a Kneeling Pallof Press instead. The starting position for this variation is with both knees are on the floor. Keep your body very upright.
The important take away from the Pallof Press is that form is much more important than the weight you resist.
Work hard to keep the shoulders and hips square to each other and perpendicular to the anchor point.
Side Stepping Pallof Press
Now that you have the Pallof Press down let’s add some motion to it.
In this video, you will see Tony Gentilcore perform what he calls a Walking Pallof Press. To me, it’s more of a side-stepping version of the press.
Notice his steps are deliberate, and he does not allow his upper body to stay behind when he moves. The arms are straight out in front and square to his chest. Don’t allow the motion to pull your arms toward the anchor point.
If you want to make this even harder and work the glutes more, put an elastic band below your knees so your hips and glutes have to work when you sidestep.
Below is a link to Amazon and the best resistance bands on the market for golf conditioning.
Vertical Pallof Press Variations
Nick Tumminello has created a video showing a vertical variation of the Pallof Press.
The starting positions are the same, only this time you lift your arms straight up instead of out from your chest.
You will find this much harder to do and you might have to lower the tension or weight to keep your body from leaning toward the anchor point.
Notice a couple of minutes into the video that he does a vertical lift with his back to the anchor point. You can also do this with a split rope handle with your hands in front of you and the V of the rope at the back of your head. Lift straight up from this position.
This is another variation you can add to work different muscles and to keep your exercise routine from becoming stale.
Other Weight-bearing Anti-Rotation Exercises
There are other weight-bearing anti-rotational exercises that are useful to a golf conditioning program.
The first exercise is the Farmer’s Carry. It prepares the body to handle heavy weight. The other exercises are the suitcase carry, one arm cable press, and the one arm overhead press.
Links to those exercises are presented below.
Add these exercises to your golf fitness program and you will be hitting the golf ball farther before you know it!
Pallof Press Summary
For golfers, I believe the Pallof Press variations are essential to a golf performance program.
As I mentioned in How to Strengthen the Core with the Deadbug most people will get the biggest bang for their buck by strengthening the core first. These anti rotation exercises will not only help your golf game but will also benefit your health and protect yourself from injury.
The Pallof Press is a non-complicated exercise that requires very little equipment. For that reason, it is handy for travelers that don’t mind packing a resistance band in their luggage and it can easily be performed in a hotel room.
The key points of the exercise are:
- Not to use a lot of weight or tension.
- Good form is more important than the weight.
- Keep the shoulders and hips square to each other and don’t allow the tension to pull you towards the anchor point.
- It isn’t a race, push away from your body slowly and in control.
- Lock your elbows out and hold that position for a few seconds before pulling back towards the chest.
- Once you can easily do a Pallof Press, don’t add extra weight, instead, go to the next variation that has a less stable base to make your core and glutes work harder to hold you in place.
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