How to Progress Yourself With Exercise (The Plank)

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How to Progress Yourself With Exercise (The Plank)
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Disclaimer: Please consult your physician before attempting any exercise.

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Over the Next Series of Guides I will Teach how to progress yourself with a given exercise. This way you can perform the exercise at your current level of fitness, and then progress from there.

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My intention is help you build a knowledge base of basic, effective exercises so that you can feel confident putting together your own workouts! And customize them to your current fitness level.

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Variations are presented to you from Beginner to Advanced levels. Experiment with each variation to see where you land on the spectrum.

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Today we are going to go over the plank. The plank is used to develop overall core stability and should be one of your foundational exercises for building a stronger core.

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There are probably an infinite number of plank variations, but I will share with you the ones I like to use with the clients that I work with.

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Modified (short) Plank:  Start on the ground with your elbows directly beneath your shoulders.  Brace your core and squeeze your butt.  You should try to make your body as straight as possible.

Modified (short) Plank: Start on the ground with your elbows directly beneath your shoulders. Brace your core and squeeze your butt. You should try to make your body as straight as possible.

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Intermittent Plank:  From the short plank position extend your legs into full plank position.  Make your body as straight as possible and engage your core.  Hold of a set amount of time.

Intermittent Plank: From the short plank position extend your legs into full plank position. Make your body as straight as possible and engage your core. Hold of a set amount of time.

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With the intermittent plank you can hold the full plank for a given time and lengthen that time, changing from short plank to full plank, until you are ready to proceed to a complete full plank.

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Incline Plank:  Find a structure that is higher than ground level.  With elbows directly beneath your shoulders straighten the body and brace your core.  Hold for time.

Incline Plank: Find a structure that is higher than ground level. With elbows directly beneath your shoulders straighten the body and brace your core. Hold for time.

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With the inclined plank you can progress yourself by lowering the surface until you get down to ground level.

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Plank:  Start on the ground with elbows directly beneath your shoulders.  Extend your body making it as straight as possible.  Brace your core and squeeze your butt.

Plank: Start on the ground with elbows directly beneath your shoulders. Extend your body making it as straight as possible. Brace your core and squeeze your butt.

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Plank w/ Arm Reach:  Start in full plank position.  Without shifting your body, lift one arm up and extend it out in front of you.  Return to starting position and alternate arms.  Brace throughout.

Plank w/ Arm Reach: Start in full plank position. Without shifting your body, lift one arm up and extend it out in front of you. Return to starting position and alternate arms. Brace throughout.

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It is imperative that you do not shift your hips from side to side. In the next two slides I will show you what NOT to do and then how to do it CORRECTLY.

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DO NOT DO THIS.  This is INCORRECT.

DO NOT DO THIS. This is INCORRECT.

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Plank with Arm Reach done CORRECTLY

Plank with Arm Reach done CORRECTLY

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Plank Up Downs:  Start in full plank position.  Engage your core.  With one arm followed by the other, press yourself up to Tall Plank or Push Up position.  Return to start by reversing the movement.

Plank Up Downs: Start in full plank position. Engage your core. With one arm followed by the other, press yourself up to Tall Plank or Push Up position. Return to start by reversing the movement.

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I have found that completing the desired number of repetitions on one side and then switching to the other is easier to keep track of.

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As with the Plank w/ Arm Reach, DO NOT shift your hips from side to side.

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Plank Ball Rollout:  Start on an exercise ball in the full plank position, with core engaged and butt tightened.  From this position extend your arms out as far as you can maintain position.

Plank Ball Rollout: Start on an exercise ball in the full plank position, with core engaged and butt tightened. From this position extend your arms out as far as you can maintain position.

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The next exercise requires that you have full control of you ability to engage your core.

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Full Body Extended Plank:  From the lying position with arms extended out in front of you.  Straighten your legs and engage your core from shoulders to butt.  As ONE UNIT lift your body of the ground.

Full Body Extended Plank: From the lying position with arms extended out in front of you. Straighten your legs and engage your core from shoulders to butt. As ONE UNIT lift your body of the ground.

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You must life your body as ONE UNIT. This ensures that all muscles are working together to stabilize your core. Once in the fully extended position hold for a set amount of time.

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General guidelines for the Plank and its variations. You should not feel your lower back during ANY of these exercises. If you do, you need to adjust the position of your spine.

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To see how to adjust the position of your spine, please see my guide How to Build a Stronger Core From the Ground Up.

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Thanks for viewing!  If you have any questions please feel free to comment!

Thanks for viewing! If you have any questions please feel free to comment!

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