Side forearm plank is a great pose. Forearm plank and all of its variations rank high up on my list of core strengthening poses. I use to tell everyone I worked with that it was a perfect shape for building stability in the trunk. On further examination I realized that the body is able to recruit a whole host of other muscles to hold itself up (most often the pectoral muscles) and maintain the pose.
In terms of abdominal strength I look to the transverse abdominis as the main stabilizer of the low spine. Along with multifidus, the other abdominal muscles (oblique’s, rectus abdominis), and a couple of others, the transverse abdominis must have good tone to develop a balanced trunk.
This is why I started using the basic exercise Feet Three Inches Off the Floor, as one of the Core Four exercises of my CoreWalking Program. This basic exercise goes a long way towards isolating the transverse abdominis in order to build its tone. Technically you can’t really isolate a muscle and there are a number of them firing in Feet Three Inches Off the Floor, but you can really feel the transverse abdominis and what it can or can’t do.
Once that exercise becomes easy along with the other two strength exercises of the Core Four ( Block Between the Thighs to Bridge, and Kegels, or Pelvic Lifts) you are ready to move on to plank and all its variations.
The forearm plank variation in the video above is one of my favorites. There is not a lot of bony support between the pelvis and the ribcage—just a host of muscles (abdominals, quadratus lumborum, multifidus, erector spinea) that tend to be very tight and often weak.
Side Forearm Plank to Forearm Plank puts all of these muscles into play. If you watch the video you can see the wrinkling of my shirt as I move from one position to another. This twisting action supports both movement and strength in these muscles—two qualities sorely needed in this area of the body.
Most of the good work in this forearm plank variation should take place between the pelvis and the rib cage.
Side Forearm Plank to Forearm Plank
Despite the name we will start in Forearm Plank
- Bring the forearms to the ground with the elbows directly under the shoulders and parallel to each other. I like to have the palms flat to the floor.
- The ears, shoulders, hips, knees and ankles should all be in one line to the best of your ability.
- In this variation keep the feet together.
- Shift over to right side bringing the left hand to the left hip. Stack the hips on top of one another but be careful not to bring the left hip too far back lest you fall backwards.
- Initiating the movement from the left hip come back to forearm plank with the feet together and after a breath move to the left side.
Do a set of three or five to each side making sure to take at least a breath in each position and stack the hips directly on top of each other.