Why the Pallof Press Beats Sit-Ups for a Strong Core

Laurie Junkins demonstrating Pallof Press

It’s safe to say we all strive for a stronger core, and the first exercise most people think of for those proverbial “abs of steel” are sit-ups or their more modern cousin, the crunch. Well, think again, because studies have exposed sit-ups as hazardous to your back–so much so that the U.S. military doesn’t even use them anymore. Many fitness professionals have replaced sit-ups and (less harmful, but not super effective) crunches with more functional exercises classified as anti-rotational or anti-flexion moves, where you must brace your core against a force, instead of flexing or twisting it. The Pallof press is one of the very best of these types of core-building movements.

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ZUM U – Training for Fat Loss with Erik Ciccarelli

Erik Ciccarelli, Private Personal Trainer and PICP III, USAW Coach at ZUM, discusses the complex topic of training and diet in regards to fat loss. As a part of the monthly ZUM U lecture series for ZUM Fitness members, Erik’s talk covers the following:

There are 3 major areas to think about when your goal is fat loss. Fat loss isn’t a linear thing. Meaning there isn’t a take a pill and it’s fixed approach. But getting control of these three areas will set you up for success.

1. Insulin – it’s a hormone that’s 100% controllable. You’re always deciding what to eat. No one is ever forcing you to eat anything. Choose real food. A good indicator of what real food would be is seeing if the ingredients have less than two ingredients.

2. Stress (Cortisol) – An abundance of this hormone being released in the body will wreak havoc. We’re humans living in the current modern world. We’re going to be stressed. Minimizing it effects insulin, sleep, mood, appetite and your brain age.

3. Exercise – Incorporate strength training into you routine. Minimize your rest time when training. Also practice more eccentric training. You want to become a fat burning machine!

You can’t outwork a bad diet.

Additionally, Erik has some follow up advice not covered in the talk:

– There are a few carb trackers I’ve heard of over the years. The best one I currently know about is https://www.carbmanager.com/

There is a fee involved with this one. But everyone I’ve talked to really loves it.

Supplements – We didn’t touch on this much. I would recommend taking these four.

Zinc – 150-200mg a day. Pill form. It’s a mineral that has been depleted from food from poor soil.

Magnesium – 200-300mg at night after dinner. In pill form. This mineral will make you tired and stay asleep. Usually magnesium is a missing link with sleep issues. Calcium is a big branded supplement that you see everywhere. What you don’t see is that it can’t be absorbed properly without magnesium.

Magnesium is a building block to many things in the body. 

Fish Oil – The main ingredient is EPA and DHA. If you’re looking at the bottle make sure it says at least 300-400mg of both DHA and EPA. EPA is more inflammatory driven and DHA is more brain health driven. Meaning the total amount of both combined should be at least 700-800mg. Otherwise it’s a waste of money. You’ll see a lot of bottles with this ~ next to the EPA or DHA. That means it not in there. Which means your consuming some random oil…

Vitamin D – Any city north of LA is deficient in Vitamin D. Try getting 1000-3000iu of vitamin D five days a week. It’s just super important. Trust me. 

There is obviously so many things to think about. Control you food, get 8 hours of sleep and prioritize strength training. 


Bridget’s Favorite HardCore Playlist!

members love the music in class!

The word “music” is derived from the Greek root Muses, who are the goddesses of inspiration.  To my mind, there’s no better word to describe what music brings to my life.  Here’s the 13th HardCore song list that member Bridget Cobb thought was the bomb, so I thought I’d share it wilh all of you.


Setting the Mood Before Class:

West Side Story – America

Percussionisti Dell’ Orchestra Sinfonica

This percussion composition sets the tone.  It’s a popular tune that makes the hair on the back of my neck stand straight up as all of the percussionists play the theme together.



1. Talking ’bout My Baby

Fatboy Slim

I first heard it in one of Elia Mrak’s classes, where he said ‘this song just makes me want to walk with a smile on my face.’  Roger that, loud and clear!

2. Bridge Attack

Bill Whelan

Inspires your feet to move like the dancin’ Irish.  Be careful, the soles of your shoes might catch on fire!


Interval Section:

1. Hard to Handle

The Black Crowes

Blues + Rock = Joe Love

2. Regret

New Order

I usually see someone signing along to this one.

3. Hey Ya!  (Instrumental)


Quick tempo, uplifting vibe.

4. Only the Young


Theme song for the 80’s movie Vision Quest, which inspired the hell out of me.  There goes the hair on the back of my neck again!

5. One Girl / One Boy


Yes, !!! is the name of the performers.

6. Percussion Jam

Askin Serbetci

Great East Indian drum circle to keep you in The Zone.  Life is best in The Zone.

7. Pretty in Pink

The Psychedelic Furs

Another 80s movie tune.  What is a Psychedelic Fur, anyway?

8. All Summer Long

Kid Rock

Do you know what tune Kid Rock sampled from for this one?

9. Freedom! ’90

George Michael

George Michael with an Empowering Stance.

10. Extreme Ways (Bourne’s Legacy)


Moby = Master of Mood and Ambiance.  I love the way this song evokes conflict while inspiring movement, even without the lyrics.


Posture Training:



Wasn’t into his music until my thirties.  Now I love it.


After-class Ambiance:

Goodnight Sweetheart

The Spaniels

Just like the endings of the ol’ She-Na-Na Show… way back when.