The front and side plank exercises are great for strengthening the musculature of the anterior core. Plank exercises come with many different options that range in difficulty. When it comes to front and side planks, most people do not perform these exercises correctly and just mindlessly hold. This is not a proper plank. In order to get the most benefits out of these exercises, and to engage the right muscles, once your body is in the proper position, you want to contract all of your core muscles, including your glutes. If you are doing this correctly, you should not be able to hold yourself in the plank position for very long.
You do not need any equipment to do these bodyweight exercises.
The front and side plank exercises are great options for beginners who are looking to improve their core stability.
However, the regular variation of each might be too challenging for beginners. If this is the case, beginners can perform the front plank by elevating their forearms on a box or bench, and performing the modified variation. As for the side plank, beginners can modify the exercise by keeping their knees bent and on the floor. Beginners might perform 3 sets of 10-15 second holds of the modified front and side plank exercise. Once beginners can hold each variation for 15+ seconds with good form, they can progress to more advanced variations of each.
Intermediate lifters who have mastered the modified front and side plank can progress to the regular variations of each exercise where they are on their forearms and feet. Intermediate lifters who are comfortable with this can progress to doing both the front and side plank from their hands and feet, or can elevate their feet on a bench (or up a wall). You can also walk your forearms so they are farther ahead of your body, or can perform a variation where you press up onto your hands from your forearms, go back down to your forearms, and repeat, or you can perform the hand and shoulder tap and touch your opposite shoulder.
Women of an intermediate fitness level can do planks as part of their warm-up, can perform them between sets of upper body exercises (I do not like to perform this or any other core stability exercise with heavy compound lower body exercises as I want the core to be fresh for these exercises). The planks can also be used in a conditioning circuit as a way to increase overall core stability work. These exercises can also be used in workouts that are done in de-load weeks, or during recovery workouts.
Advanced lifters can use the front and side planks in their workout program the same ways as intermediate lifters. They can also perform the same plank variations that I described for intermediate lifters, but with more resistance. This resistance can include chains, a weight plate (place on mid/lower back). Advanced lifters can also perform the Renegade row, or banded rows while in a plank position. As for the side plank, it can be made more challenging by placing chains or a weight plate the your hip. You can also make this exercise more challenging by performing a bottoms-up kettlebell hold, or by elevating your feet up the wall.
Front and side planks offer many benefits. How a woman chooses to use a plank is highly dependent on her overall technical ability and experience, her reason for using the exercise, the set/rep scheme used, where it falls in the workout, what it’s paired with, and what the rest periods are. In general planks can be used to do any or all of the following:
These are plank variations. There are several different ways to do a plank, and I am going to show you a couple of them. First there is a front plank. We generally have people start off on their knees instead of their toes, it makes it a little bit easier to support less of their body weight. You want to be in a nice straight line, so if you had a broomstick on your back it would touch the back of your head, your upper back and your tailbone. Make sure that your ribs are down, that your glutes are tight, and that your chest is out. A lot of people will get into this position trying to stabilize with their upper back instead of using their core. We usually start people with the plank off of their knees. Everything is nice and tight. We like to hold it for somewhere in between 5 and 10 seconds then reset and come back up and reset. We actually use planks for reps often times.
And to make it more challenging you can keep your ribs down and brace really hard and try to breathe underneath the brace. You can also go to your toes. Again if you are going to take a break, you hold it for 5 to 10 seconds and come to your knees and relax and pop back up.
The next variation is the side plank, and you can also do a side plank off your knees believe it or not. Get your body nice and long. I just bend my knees and bring my feet back behind me, make sure your elbow is right underneath your shoulder, you are going to come up and squeeze your glutes. The hardest thing here is to try to hold your head in a nice neutral position. Your head will get in whatever position possible to try to counter balance. Glutes nice and tight, reset, pop back up and hold.
Again you can do this one off of your toes as well. Be in a nice a straight line, you don't want to be in a V where your hips come back, you don't want to let this sag and you don't want to come up too high. Again, nice straight line, elbow right underneath shoulder. That's a side plank.
Plank and side plank off your knees or off your toes are a couple of different variations. If any of this gets easy, you are always welcome to make it more difficult by adding a chain or a band. You can attach a band to the squat rack and put it around you while you are doing a plank to add a little bit more element and core stability. These are a few different variations.
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