Strength Basics

Getting stronger, fitter, and healthier by sticking to the basics. It's not rocket science, it's doing the simple stuff the right way. Strength-Basics updates every Monday, plus extra posts during the week.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Side Plank Variations

In my previous post on planks, I listed some variations for the regular plank. Here are some for the side plank.

Side Plank with Upper Leg Raised. Get into a normal side plank, then raise the upper leg to parallel with the floor. Hold it in position while you hold the plank. You can raise it higher, but parallel seems to be the hardest (perhaps because of the long lever arm being maximally acted on by gravity?)

Side Plank with Lower Leg Raised. As the normal side plank, except you remove the lower leg from the ground. Instead of stacking the top foot on the bottom foot, you place it on the ground and bend the lower leg, pulling it up towards your chest and holding it off the ground.

Straight Arm Side Plank. Instead of rest on the foot and forearm, extend the supporting arm fully, resting on the palm. Keep your shoulder extended - don't let it sag into the movement; keep it strong.

Dynamic Side Plank. Also called the Dynamic Side Bridge. Get into position as if you are about to straight into a side plank - lying on your side, arm down, feet stacked, but hips touching the ground. Now tense into a side plank, raising off the ground. As soon as you lock into the top position, relax and lower to the ground. Touch and tense into the next repetition. Note - if you have medial or lateral knee ligament problems, this motion can be a problem, so take it slow at first (and get that knee checked out!). If not, these can be done like any other unweighted ab exercise - do them for reps, and alternate sides.

Unlike the plank, there seem to be fewer variations of the side plank. You can add resistance to make it more difficult (a weighted vest is probably ideal), but the side plank is generally hard enough that the basic version and these variations should challenge you for a while.

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