You’ve been exercising for awhile now, and you have been getting results but recently hit a plateau. It’s time to challenge your body with progressions of the exercises you have already been doing. If you continue to do a standard plank, for example, even adding time isn’t enough to continue to challenge your body to move forward. You need to go into uncharted territory to gain the results you are after. Let’s go through a progression of the plank, in order to examine what you can do with a basic exercise to make it more challenging, so you continue to see results.
1) Standard plank with knee modification
Here you can see the basic form of the elbows under the shoulders, in alignment, but a shortened lever to the knees. Press actively into the floor while simultaneously hollowing out the abdominals, drawing the belly in toward the spine.
2) Standard plank with toe extension
Here you see the standard forearm plank position. At first glance it looks normal, but you can challenge your body by raising up on your toes. Extending to the toes increases the weight working back to the core.
3) Forearm plank with slow rocking forward and back
Here you are in the same plank position, but adding a dynamic element to the plank by shifting your weight forward and back (see the toe position).
4) Forearm plank with arm position change
Here, instead of holding with both forearms, we change up the weight distribution slightly to challenge your body. You can do this one with a hold on one side, and then the other. You can also make this a dynamic movement, shifting from forearm plank, to this position with one forearm and one hand, and then back to the other side.
5) Forearm plank with one leg lifted
Here we see the same forearm plank, but adding a leg lifted again changes the balance and weight distribution aspect of the exercise. You can choose to hold for a length of time, or again, dynamically shift weight, lift the leg hold for a moment, shift back to the center, and lift the other side. Be sure to keep the alignment!
Have fun with your planks and other basic exercises! Changing them up just a bit to make them more challenging is a way to progress not only the exercise, but also your body. If you’d like help with your planking form or want to start a new exercise program that will challenge your body, contact me for a complimentary fitness consultation!
Written by Melissa Abramovich, ACE CPT, NASM CGT, AAHFRP Medical Exercise Specialist at Elite Sports Club-River Glen
Melissa Abramovich went into Personal Training and Group Exercise instruction after successfully losing 140 pounds through healthy diet and exercise. Her desire to help others drove her forward into a career helping others to make healthier choices. She is an ACE certified personal trainer and now also a Medical Exercise Specialist (AAHFRP), helping clients with a myriad of health issues at Elite Sports Clubs. She holds a Bachelor’s degree, and many group exercise related certifications as well.
This information is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease. All material in this article is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise, or other health program.