Plank Variations for Core Stability

by Thomas Martinho, PT, DPT

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Core strength and stability have many benefits for all populations of people. Whether you are an elite athlete or simply want to avoid pain in daily life, maintaining a strong core is essential. In athletes, the core helps transfer forces through the kinetic chain. Training the core improves performance in sport and prevents compensations that may lead to injuries. During typical exercises such as squats, deadlifts, and overhead press, the core acts as the base of stability in which the rest of the body works from. Trying to increase lifts without this core stability can lead to faulty movement patterns and result in injury. Core strength is also necessary in our daily lives, helping us maintain healthy positioning while sitting and standing, decreasing excess load on the low back. 

One of the best and most well-known exercises to improve core stability is the plank. A plank exercise teaches a patient or athlete to maintain spinal alignment and create a stable core. While performing a plank, a person’s core and glute should be engaged the entire time, avoiding excess movement and arching at the low back. Once we are able to maintain this stability in static positioning, it is important that we are able to maintain it while moving. By adding variations that mimic daily movements or athlete-specific exercises we can make our planks more challenging and functional. 

Try these movements to challenge yourself and add variety to your planks!

Plank with Medicine Ball Rollout

Tall Plank with Kettle Bell Drag

Side Plank Thread the Needle

Side Plank with T

Side Plank Hip Abduction 

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