Where are you at with these plank progressions? Here are 3 progressive options to use with instructional video, photos and tips on building the time under tension for each.
Planks (most often just the 4-point plank) are widely adopted for ‘training the core’ but the role of the trunk – imagine a cylinder from the glutes upto the ribs is really what we’re thinking about.
Helping the lumbar spine by resisting rotation, flexion, or extension when desired, it also needs to serve as powerhouse to the limbs in running and in all sports.
All of the planks are working ‘anti-extension’ in terms of the shape of the back.
Including these as part of your trunk robustness work, which is usefully done in the end stages of a workout, or as part of your warm up for ‘Activation’ where we fire up the neuro-muscular system, readying our brain-muscle motor unit connections.
8-point plank; Progression 1
4-point planks and 8 point planks are often done badly, for example, the spine not in anatomically neutral, the shoulders not centrated, or random tension elsewhere with other shapes of the body out of whack!
There is something that the 8 point plank gives beyond the 4 point plank – greater feel and awareness for getting neutral pelvic tilt, a connection ‘ribs &hips’ by aiming to pull down through the ground forearms to knees. This engages the whole region around your lower abs.
You could increase time under tension here, to build up endurance of your core, while maintaining the quality of the shape needed.
E.g. you can hold the shape well for 40s.
Do this two – three times per week and try to add 10s /week.
When you get to two minutes, (perhaps with a mini break in the middle if you need) go to the next progression!
3-point plank; Progression 2
Anti-rotation: The ability to resist the body twisting under changing demand; again useful in general life, and needed across most sports.
Ensure we can do everything well in the 8-point plank, from the high press position.
Adjust the width of the feet according to the demand you can tolerate- i.e.. Resist with minimal ‘drift’ of the ‘hips-level’ position.
E.g. you can do 1 minute of alternating 5s holds
Build up to 2 minutes, 5-10s holds
2-point plank; Progression 3
As above, and now with more anterior chain (‘front’ of torso into front of hips) demand again to hold the shape and resist extension from neutral, and resisting rotation, we’re really into hard work which is used by athletes.
Maintaining and regaining scapular control each time we move an arm, and keeping the hip in neutral and as level as possible, we’re cross bracing and working diagonally shoulder to hip, again useful in all sorts of general life scenarios as well as most sports.
Starting off with 5-10s holds is reasonable, increasing to longer holds, and progressing the continuous work from 1min to 2mins.
Ofcourse this is not at all exclusive in covering planks, variations or core training, there is a lot more!
Any questions drop me a line, I’d love to hear where you’re at with these in the context of everything else you do and your needs. Happy to help further.
Let me know how you get on!
PS Check out my free 30day lower body strength-stability program,
or my online kettelbell training program with workout video