Planks are one of the most common exercises performed in a gym and rehabilitation program. However, technique is rarely corrected before progressing on to harder variations. So, today we’re going to look at the basics and a few variations.
The plank is a great way to build core and torso (both front and back) stability and rigidity. It helps build tissue resiliency not only in the torso, but in the shoulders as well.
1. Front Plank
So, let’s breakdown the basic front plank. Many people start with arms fully extended or on their forearms. They are slightly different difficulties, but overall are fairly similar. The important part of either basic plank position is form.
The picture above is a pretty good example of the basic front plank position. Shoulders are over elbow or wrists, elbows are actively pushing into the ground in order to round the thoracic spine (i.e. upper back) towards the ceiling (like a cat arching their back), the hips are tucked to ensure that the low back does NOT sag, and the quadriceps are flexed to keep the legs fully extended. The feet should be slightly apart to keep good spinal alignment. As soon as you lose any of these points stop. If you find you can’t keep your legs straight start on your knees to do a partial plank before progressing up.
The one downside of the above shot is the grasping of the hands. This is one of the most common cheats in the front plank position and should be avoided. It may make the plank more “bearable”, but you do not get the full shoulder stability benefits when this is done.
It goes without saying, but it takes a decent amount of practice and the more you do correctly the better you’ll get. Once the you’ve mastered the basics try out the numerous variations that are available. Here are a few good examples from some of our very own.
2. Front Plank on Stability Ball
Adding a dynamic surface under your forearms or feet is a great way to step things up a slight notch. If that’s not hard enough do some roll outs or stir-the-pots to keep progressing.
3. Dynamic Plank Disc Circles
As many of our clients can attest this is one of my favorites. I love how holistic and dynamic adding in sliding discs can be for a plank. The possibilities of what you can do are endless. Dynamic planks are much more translatable to everyday life and activity compared to the basic plank, but should not be done by novice individuals. As technique becomes quite difficult to maintain when performing exercises such as this.
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