If you're looking for some advanced variations of the standard Plank, the answer may be simpler than you think.
Just remove one point of contact.
It's really that easy to turn a simple hand or elbow Plank into a completely new and more effective exercise for building a resilient core. Using this "3-point" position requires some degree of pre-existing core strength and stability, but can usually be progressed to once you've mastered the standard Plank.
This 3-point setup is one of my go-to core methods. Here's why I love it so much, plus three examples of how you can program it.
I am a huge proponent of the idea of core stability leading to performance benefits. Although many people still love to use their core training to promote spinal movement, I prefer to focus more on core training that resists spinal movement.
No, it's not wrong or bad to have slight degrees of flexion or extension, but I believe that resisting those forces will serve much better in the long run for athletes and fitness fanatics looking to boost core strength, stability and performance.
I love these anti-movement exercises because they help you construct a foundational pillar of support, which will come in handy when trying to transfer training to sport.
When you are running full speed toward a running back getting ready to make a tackle and he makes a cut in the other direction, do you want your spine and midsection to be pliable and flimsy? No. You want to be able to plant your foot and immediately stop all momentum in that direction so you can accelerate toward where that running back went. This is just one general example of how a strong and stable midsection can help you become a better athlete and give you an overall postural health fix as well.
When incorporating these anti-rotation, anti-flexion and anti-extension movements, just know that is this one tool in the toolbox. This is not to say that nobody should ever move the spine in those fashions, but you need to know that there are many sport-specific situations that require rigidity instead of movement of the spine.
Here are some great plank variations that you can progress to. These all incorporate the anti-movement strategy by using a 3-point set-up. This challenges your balance, strength and breathing capacity. Mastering these can help you transfer or create forces through your trunk and help improve athletic ability.
Push-Up to 3-Point Plank
Starting off in a push-up position, you'll perform the eccentric phase as normal but release one hand to an overhead position on the concentric portion of the movement. Now with only one hand on the ground, it's your goal to maintain a sturdy plank position with minimal weight shift or loss of tension. Exhale as you reach with your off arm and repeat reps once you've fully exhaled. Widen your feet for a little bit of a larger base of support, narrow them for less guaranteed stability. Watch the video above to see the exercise in action.
3-Point ABC Slider Plank
In a hand plank position, place one slider under one hand and begin to trace the letters of the alphabet with the slider. Only one hand is truly supporting your body since the other hand is constantly moving, and moving in a variety of different speeds and directions. Be sure to keep a stable position and breath efficiently as you perform this. Perform the whole alphabet on both arms.
3-Point Plank Row
With a band anchored to an immovable object, set yourself up in a hand plank with little to no slack in the band. Once you're stable, remove the hand with the band and begin to row from an overhead position into a standard row position. Make sure you limit weight shift or loss of tension, and reach with the band as much as you can before rowing. Again, a wider foot stance will lend more assistance.
Work these into your training where you or your coach sees fit! These are all extremely low-impact, which is easy on the joints and extremely effective for training and athletic application.
- Build Stable Shoulders and a Strong Core With Single-Arm Planks
- 25 Plank Variations for a Shredded, Stable Core
- The Hardest Plank of All Time