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Variations on a Plank

I received a great question from a remote client yesterday about how to plank and variations of the plank position. Whether it be the front or side plank, the variations are many. If you just want to know what movement progression to perform, skip ahead to “WAYS TO VARY THE PLANK”

But first, let’s understand the basic objectives. Among many other benefits, the plank is designed to first engage and then strengthen the muscles that support the midline of your body.

What is the midline? Well, if I were facing you and you drew a line directly down the middle of my body, splitting me into left and right sides that line would be my midline. A strong midline means a stronger, safer body. From a static perspective (not moving) you will experience better posture while sitting or standing, better breathing, and less muscle aches. From a dynamic perspective you can move through all sorts of range of motion more safely and with more power. Think about picking something heavy up without hurting yourself.

WAYS TO VARY THE PLANK

Here is a quick progression of the plank and side plank (with videos)

Plank
Side Plank
Knee Plank
Side Knee Plank
Bird Dog – just make sure you hold the pose on each side for the prescribed time frame. No dynamic switching when using it as a substitution for the plank.
Dead Bug – just make sure you hold the pose on each side for the prescribed time frame. No dynamic switching when using it as a substitution for the plank.

There you go my friends! Unless directed otherwise in your training notes, please feel free to pick your own variation that works for you in the moment.

This is very important.

Sure, the ultimate goal is to be able to hold a plank or side plank for an extended period of time. But please do not put a time frame on this goal! I cannot stress this enough! Your body will evolve and strengthen at it’s own pace. Instead of setting time frame, be curious and explore what your body is capable of with each workout. It’s an adventure! Enjoy it!

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