Planks are essential for training core stabilization and promoting strength and stability throughout the scapulothoracic region. While it is common to progress this exercise by holding it for longer periods of time, there are more efficient--and effective--methods of progressing a plank, adding a dding movement using gliders. Gliders provide a dynamic challenge by incorporating extremity movement and resistance, which helps increase core and upper-body strength.
When incorporating gliders into a client's program, begin with static planks before progressing to dynamic planks. This ensures the client has the proper strength and stability throughout the kinetic chain, and will maintain proper form while moving on the gliders. If you don't have access to gliders, you can use folded towels on a wooden floor.
The following exercises, which feature various skill levels, planes of motions and extremity movements, can be plugged into a client's current program. Depending on the client's skill level, sets and repetitions may vary. In addition, you can adjust the challenge by having clients perform these planks from either the forearms or the hands.
Plank With Knee to Elbow
Goal: Add basic, unilateral lower-body movement to a traditional plank
How to Perform: Place the feet on top of the gliders and assume a high-plank position. Start with the feet together and engage the core and upper body. Draw the right knee toward the right elbow. Return to center and draw the left knee toward the left elbow. Continue alternating movements. Complete two sets of six to 10 repetitions on each leg.
Goal: Incorporate bilateral, lower-body movement into a traditional plank
How to Perform: Place the feet on top of the gliders and assume a forearm plank position. Start with the feet together and engage the core and upper body. Simultaneously draw the right knee toward the right elbow and the left knee toward left elbow. The hips should also lift while the legs draw inward. The knees do not touch the elbows. Release the body back to a plank and continue this motion. Complete two sets of six to 12 repetitions on each leg.
Plank With Hip Rotation and Knee Extension
Goal: Incorporate hip rotation in the transverse plane, which requires core activation to maintain upper-body alignment, control and balance
How to Perform:
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