Best CORE Exercises for MMA, Martial Arts, and Combat Fighters

by Funk Roberts

The core muscles are those around your trunk (abs and obliques) as well those in your pelvis, hips and lumbar region. Many workouts fail to engage the core and without a workout designed to specifically target the core the muscles will weaken over

bruce lee dragonflagThis can cause pain, especially if muscle is being built elsewhere. Although core exercises shouldn’t necessarily be the primary part of your exercise regiment they are an essential component of your regiment and will make you a better athlete.

A strong core can improve strike and kick strength as well as endurance. Core strengthening and endurance will also improve your coordination and balance. In addition to athletic performance increased core strength can have a positive effect throughout your day-to-day life as it helps improve posture, improves lower back pain and makes it easier to lift heavy objects.

Planks and crunches are perhaps the most common exercises you might think of when it comes to developing core strength, but crunches are mostly useless in honing the deeper core muscles while planks put you in a static position you’ll rarely encounter during actual competition.

One of the most best and most effective core exercises you can integrate into your training as an MMA or combat athlete is the Pallof Press.

The Pallof press as an exercise was invented by John Pallof, a Boston based physical therapist. It really took off in the early 2000s as a go to core exercise for many athletes.

The Pallof is a great exercise that engages the entire core while training to resists rotation. Strengthen the muscles that resists rotation is key to developing a powerful hook to the body among other strikes. It’s the ability to resists rotation once you land a strike that is essential to transferring power throughout the entire body.

One of the best things about the Paloff press is the sheer number of variations it

It allows for a variation in training while still strengthening the core, and for different level of fitness.

Today we’re going to highlight four of the most common variations of the exercise, but there are many more variations for you to explore as you advance.

A. Standing Pallof Press

Standing Pallof Press - Resistance Band

The standing Pallof press is completed with the use of a cable machine. Set the cable machine to your preferred weight, keeping in mind this exercise is not supposed to be muscle building- the weight should just be enough to have resistance.

You want to stand perpendicular to the machine, so that your side is facing the machine. Pull the cord until the weights lift and your hands are centered at your chest.

Keep a firm hold on the handles and press out from your body.

Extend your arms fully, until your elbows lock. Hold for a moment and pull back in. Repeat the appropriate number of reps for your skill level and exercise regiment.

B. Split Stance Pallof Press

The split stance Pallof press lets you stretch your legs as you engage your core.

This is especially useful if you want to want to strengthen your hips. Like with the standing version set the cable machine to the weight you want, keeping in mind you want just enough for resistance, not strength training.

Stand perpendicular to the machine. Your stance should be wide, longer than shoulder width apart. At a more advanced level you can have one foot ahead of the other. Pull the weights up slightly and have the handle at chest level. Press out until your elbows lock and hold for a moment, keeping your core engaged.

Pull back in and repeat the appropriate number of reps for your skill level and exercise regiment.

C. One Knee or Half Kneeling Pallof Press

The one knee or half Kneeling Pallof press provides an unique challenge. Having a towel or other cushion to kneel on may help if the floor is hard. As with the other variations of the exercise you will want to be perpendicular to the cable machine.

Begin by getting down on one knee with the other foot flat on the floor with the knee at a ninety degree angle (think a traditional marriage proposal). Pull the handle out far enough to raise the weights, which should be set high enough to provide resistance but

not so high that it is difficult to lift. It should be at chest level.

Push out until your elbows lock and hold for a moment. Return to the starting position.

Complete the appropriate number of reps for your skill level and exercise regiment.

Make sure to do an equal number on each knee.

D. Tall Kneeling Pallof Press

The tall kneeling Pallof press is great for learning to be aware of your body and controlling your core. As with the one knee it may be helpful to a towel or other cushion to kneel on if the floor is hard.

Kneel so that the lower part of your legs is flat on the ground and you can straighten from the knee up. Make sure you are perpendicular to the machine and pull the weights

They should be heavy enough to provide resistance, but shouldn’t be difficult to lift. Pull the handle out so that it’s centered at chest level. Push out until your elbows lock and

Return to the starting position. Make sure that you keep your core engaged and hips level throughout the motion. Complete the appropriate number of reps for your skill level and exercise regiment.

The Pallof press is a dynamic and effective exercise that help you develop your core.

Core strength is essential to strong strikes. Unlike other exercises that only strengthen and define the superficial muscles or force you into unnatural positions the Pallof press lets you build strength while maintaining an athletic posture and training your muscles in a stance you are more likely to be in.

Overall, the Pallof press is a versatile tool to have and a valuable one to boot, and opens the door to exploring the way core strengthening can improve your regiment.

There you go!

If you are looking for a program to help you build a strong core to help improve your strength, increase stability and decrease chances of injuries (especially the your back) then you can check out the 4-Core System Training program below or you can click HERE in order to get more information

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