The exercises in the plank series are designed to stabilize and strength the muscles of the core. There are four basic exercises: 1) prone plank; 2) prone plank with foot elevated; 3) lateral plank and 4) lateral plank with foot elevated.
- Start by lying on your stomach on an exercise mat or floor with your elbows close to your sides and directly under your shoulders, palms down and fingers facing forward, legs straight, toes turned under and head and neck in a neutral position.
- Set the core, tighten your thigh muscles to straighten your legs and flex your ankles, (tuck your toes towards your shins.
- Slowly lift your trunk and thighs off the floor or mat keeping your trunk and legs rigid.
- Do not allow any sagging in your ribcage or low back, avoid hiking your hips into the air or bending the knees and keep your head and neck straight (do not look up or down).
- Keep your shoulders away from the ears (no shrugging) and directly over your elbows with your palms facing down through the entire exercise.
- Breathe and keep the abs strong while holding this position.for the prescribed period of time.
- To make the exercise more difficult, shift the body forward and backward 5 times (sawing motion); shift it side-to-side 5 times (side sawing) and make 5 circles to the right and 5 circles to the left (stir the pot).
Prone Plank with Foot Elevated
This is an advanced exercise that requires more core strength and stability and engages the muscles that extend the thigh backwards.
- Start from the previous position (prone plank).
- When you are at the top position of the prone plank, keeping the legs straight, slowly raise one foot approximately 6-12 inches off the floor.
- Hold this position for the prescribed period of time, lower the leg and repeat on the opposite leg.
- Do not let the hips sag or allow the buttocks to elevated during this exercise.
- To make the exercise more difficult, extend the opposite arm straight forward as you extend the opposite leg.
The lateral or side plank challenges stability and improves core strength by working the lateral stabilizer muscles along the side of your body from the ankle to the shoulder. This is an effective exercise to help increase lateral hip strength and stability and keep the anterior and lateral (obliques) muscles of the core strong.
- Start Start by lying on your side with your elbow bent 90 degrees and directly under your shoulder, keeping your shoulders, hips and knees in alignment.
- Your legs straight, feet stacked on top of each other, neck and head in a neutral position and free hand extended straight up.
- Set your abs and lift your body up with your weight on your support elbow and feet.
- Keep your body in a straight line from top shoulder to feet; don’t allow hips to drop to the ground and keep breathing steady.
- Hold this position for the prescribed period of time, relax, rollover and repeat on opposite side.
- To increase the difficulty and intensity of this movement, alternate lifting your top leg up a few inches and holding it for 10 seconds while maintaining your balance.
Lateral Plank with Foot Elevated
This is an advanced version of the lateral plank and increases the stability and strength demands of the muscles that run along the side of your body.
- Start from the previous position (lateral plank).
- When you get to the top position with the body elevated so that you have a straight line from the support shoulder, through the hip, to your support foot, lift the top foot approximately 12-15 inches and hold this position for the prescribed period of time.
- Lower the top foot, return to the starting position, rollover and repeat on the opposite side.