Fix Your Plank

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The plank may be one of the most popular and abused anti-extension “core” movements around. Since its mainstream debut, everyone from strength coaches to yoga instructors include the plank as a go to in anterior core stabilization. A few factors that influence whether or not you are getting the biggest bang for your buck include pelvic position (see picture below), your ability to brace and create tension.

Let’s take a look at what is necessary for an optimal plank position and also different ways to progress and regress as necessary.

1. Front Plank

  • Set up shoulder over elbows
  • Upper back to ceiling (don’t wing out on scaps!)
  • Belt buckle aimed to your chin
  • Glutes tight
  • Legs flexed, toes dug in

In order to hold a plank position it is necessary to “brace” and create adequate tension (Here’s a great article on breathing & deadbugs by Harold Gibbons). Line up the shoulders over the elbows in a right angle. Working down the body contract the glutes and if there is a pelvic tilt curve the pelvis to the chin. Legs should be locked out, quads flexed, feet together although you can start shoulder width and work in. Once the hips are aligned as necessary, pull the elbows towards the knees to create tension. Control your breathing.

Note: Curving the pelvis to the chin may not be necessary if there is no excessive pelvic tilt.

2. Plank Progressions

a. Bodysaw

  • Similar set up to plank
  • Dynamic version of a plank
  • Maintain brace throughout movement

b. Tall Kneeling TRX Fallouts

  • Knees, hips & shoulders aligned
  • Abdomen & glutes tight as you descend
  • Maintain brace through entire movement
  • Slowly exhale coming back in (similar to deadbug exhale)

c. Standing TRX Fallouts

  • Start with short bands
  • Increase TRX band length as technique improves

d. Rollouts

  • Lower angle version of the fallout
  • Must be proficient at bracing
  • Harness breathing technique (think deadbugs)

3. Plank Regressions

a. Push Up Position Plank (PUPP)

  • Emphasize “flat back” scapula position
  • “Push the ground away”
  • Glutes tight
  • “Screw hands into the ground” to create tension
PUPP
PUPP

b. Birddog

  • Use quadruped position to find neutral spine
  • Keep hips aligned with shoulders, pelvis forward
  • Challenge client to keep spinal position while;
    • Extending one arm

QuadrupedArm

  • Advance them to the following
    • Extend back leg
    • Extend opposite arm and opposite leg
    • maintain neutral spine, pelvic position while “off” the scaps
Quadruped Leg Extension
Quadruped Leg Extension
Birddog: Opposite arm, opposite leg
Birddog: Opposite arm, opposite leg

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