300421 Plank progressions

Quite frequently the plank appears in the media as the go-to exercise for firming up your stomach and improving your core, the latter a much-overused term since nearly every exercise strengthens the core. In any case, let’s take a look at the advantages of doing the plank in your exercise sessions.

There are a multitude of variations for this exercise including the four most commonly used ones that follow. Remember that it is more important the exercise is performed correctly than it is to hold it incorrectly for a longer time.

Prone Plank

Prone Plank

Remember to abdominal brace as you do this exercise[1][2]

Prone plank description

• Begin on the floor on your hands and knees

• Flatten out on your stomach while extending your lower torso straight out

• Rise on your toes and your elbows

• Maintain this straight position throughout the remainder of the time

• Don’t exceed 10 seconds before resting as this degrades the exercise form and recruits other muscles. Ten seconds up and ten seconds down, continue until you have at least a minute total in the up position.

Prone Plank

Incorrect due to the high hips position

Incorrect position due to the high hips

• Lay on your stomach with your legs straight, resting comfortably on the floor.

• Rise up onto both forearms.

• Straighten out the body as you lift off the floor.

• Maintain a rigid position.

• Lower back down after several seconds and repeat.

Side plank

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Remember to abdominal brace as you do this exercise

Side plank on the elbow Side plank on an extended arm

Side plank on the elbow

Remember to abdominal brace as you do this exercise

Begin this exercise in a straight line on your side, in other words, lay on your side with your legs straight resting comfortably on the floor.

  • Rise onto one elbow by placing that elbow directly under your shoulder, the upper arm will be resting on your upper hip
  • Place the free hand on the opposite shoulder and pull down – this helps to stabilize the shoulder.
  • Straighten out the body as you lift off the floor and raise directly up until your entire body is in a straight line from the toes to the tip of your head.
  • Maintain a rigid position and develop the Quadratus Lumborum closest to the floor to its maximum.
  • Lower back down after several seconds and repeat.
  • It is more important the exercise is performed correctly than it is to hold it incorrectly for a longer time.

Supine plank with straight legs

Remember to abdominal brace as you do this exercise

Supine plank with straight legs

Lay on your back with your legs straight, resting comfortably on the floor.

• Rise onto both forearms.

• Straighten out the body as you lift off the floor.

• Maintain a rigid position.

• Lower back down after several seconds and repeat.

  [1] Beginning abdominal bracing instruction. Tighten the muscles around a particular joint, i.e. the elbow. Feel both sides of the joint. Both sides of the joint are tight. Now do the same in the stomach region. Breathe normally as you brace. Move about as you brace and again breathe normally.

[2] Before beginning the exercise, learn to protect your lower back by bracing the abdominal wall.

Practice abdominal bracing during the movements that follow. Abdominal bracing is neither a sucking in, nor a pushing out of the abdomen. It is a stabilization of the central portion of your body, which in turn serves to protect the lower back from the undue stresses of movement. Bracing activates three layers of the abdominal wall (external and internal obliques and the transverse abdominals. (See appendix A).

Sucking in, activates the Transverse abdominis, whereas bracing activates all three layers for greater protection of and enhancement of spine stability.

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