Core exercises and strength go beyond abdominals. Core training incorporates the diaphragm, pelvic floor, and the muscles of the spine, the hips, and the shoulder. The Plank and Side Plank poses are the perfect prescription to build your core strength. These core exercise are a part of my Health Guides series.
1. Core Exercises and Core Strengthening Exercises
First off I’m going to say, if you’re really serious about building a stronger core, I would encourage you to purchase my book called “Strengthen Your Core”, which covers in far more detail what the blogs in this guide will provide you with.
But the guides, this guide specifically, is a good starter.
And if you’re motivated by this guide to delve further, then I would encourage you to then to get the book and take that next step.
So often, when people think about their core strength they’re thinking about the six-pack muscles, and they’re actually the wrong muscles to think about, because they’re our most superficial abdominal muscles.
The inner core is our breathing muscles, our diaphragm, and our pelvic floor. So every breath you take, how you integrate your breath into your workout, are essential to the start of building a stronger core.
Core Exercises to Align Your Body
The next thing to do is to align your body in such a way that your muscles can best function. Our diaphragm doesn’t function very well when we’re in a stretched position, nor does our pelvic floor, nor does our deep abdominal muscles.
Aligning yourself and elongating your body in the best of your ability before you engage in core muscles, is something that I cover in this guide as one of the blogs.
Focus on the Right Core Strengthening Exercises
The next essential thing is to not take on exercises that you happen to see in a magazine, and you go, “Well that looks kind of cool, she has beautiful abs, or he has great abs. I wanna try that exercise.”
Because so often, those exercises are so challenging that your body is going to do it, but you’re not actually going to activate the muscles that you need to to build the depth of the strength that you need. You’re going to be working more of your superficial muscles all the time.
Step by Step Core Exercises Progression
In Strengthen Your Core, I walk you through step by step the progression of planks and side planks so that you’re always going to be ensuring that your entire core musculature, which involves the muscles of the shoulders and the hips, are all being strengthened at the same level.
In the sense that when you’re doing a plank or a side plank, all of a sudden if you’re going, “Uh, my limitations, my shoulder.”
Well, guess what?
Build Your Shoulder Strength
You need to build your shoulder before you can move on so that your whole body becomes integrated in it’s strength. Then you can trust your forces from your lower body through the center into your upper body and vice versa.
So if you’re truly interested in building a stronger core, I invite you through these blogs, we’ll talk about posture, we’ll talk about breath, we’ll talk about alignment through planks and side planks, core exercises and core strengthening exercises.
But if you want to delve further, I encourage you to go one more step and purchase “Strengthen Your Core.”
2. Core Exercises: The Plank and Side Plank
The Plank and Side Plank poses are beneficial for all types of individuals—from patients in rehabilitation to elite athletes in training.
Both of these poses improve posture, and strengthen the muscles of the core and of the upper and lower body.
When the correct pose is chosen and well executed, the benefits are numerous.
I am a Physical Therapist by training and profession. My clients range in age from 15 to 95.
The 15 year old clients are usually sent my way for posture and performance-related issues. The many hours children (and adults) spend in a slouched forward position as they hover over their video games, smart phones, and computers can wreak havoc to the body.
The 15 or 45 year old does not need more forward-bending movement in their lives. As a result, they certainly do not need crunches in their exercise program! This is why the Plank and Side Plank are so beneficial.
Many of my older clients have been diagnosed with osteoporosis or low bone density.
In their quest to develop a stronger body, Planks and Side Planks allow us to build core strength while avoiding contraindicated crunches.
All of my clients benefit from doing Planks and Side Planks at a level that challenges them. Having taught so many variations of Planks and Side Planks over the years, I realized that knowledge and awareness of the different Plank and Side Plank progressions were not easily available—but needed to be.
That is the motivation for me to write the book Strengthen Your Core.
3. Strengthen Your Core
With this book, you will learn how to train your core safely.
You will understand how you can modify the levers within your body to optimize and isolate the target of your training.
In addition, you will understand the structures that are involved in core stabilization.
After reading this book and reviewing the videos you will have:
- An understanding of the anatomical structures involved in doing Planks and Side Planks.
- An understanding of key elements needed to help you match your strengths and weaknesses with the most appropriate Plank and Side Plank poses for you.
- The knowledge you need to customize and progress your Plank and Side Plank as your fitness and functional strength improves.
- Multiple examples of Plank and Side Plank exercises from Beginner to Elite level.
4. Core Exercises — Important Articles
I have published a number of blog posts on core exercises and core training using the plank and side plank. Here are the key articles.
- How to do the Plank Exercise
- Wall Plank Exercise With Stability Ball
- Are Planks and Pushups Appropriate Osteoporosis Exercises?
- Core Exercise for Beginners — Side Plank Exercise Roll for Beginners
- Core Strengthening Exercises for Seniors – Plank Exercise Using Sofa for Support
- Stability Ball Plank Exercise for Active Client
- How to Do Side Plank Exercise for Active Level
- Dynamic Plank Exercise Roll for Active Level
- Core Exercises for Posture
- Core Breathing Techniques
5. Build a Stronger Core — Free Online Course
Build a Stronger Core is my free online course for both health professionals and individuals who want to understand of how to build a stronger core.
The course covers core anatomy and physiology as they relate to plank and side planks, and the proper mechanics for planks and side planks. Your can access the free course here:
I have tried to make the text, illustrations and photos in Strengthen Your Core as rich as possible. However, I believe that many of the important concepts in Strengthen Your Core are best explained using video. Below is over one hour of video content that accompanies a number of the sections in the book.
- Welcome to Strengthen Your Core
- Anatomy of Stability
- Movements of the Spine
- Strength of the Spine in Different Positions
- Exploring Spinal Positions in Standing
- Exploring Neutral Lumbar Spine in Supine
- Bending From the Hips Versus the Spine
- Foot Placement
- A: Anthopometric Measurements
- B: Body Angle
- C: Contact Area
- D: Distance
- E: Effort
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Position of Shoulder Blades
- Your Core and Your Posture
- Beginner Plank 1 on Wall
- Beginner Plank 3 on Sofa
- The Beginner Roll
- Active Plank 6 and 7
- Active Side Plank 45 and 90 Degrees
- The Active Roll