It’s Time To Work The Core
Progressions For Training Side Plank
Alright, grab a slackline and get ready to work the core. It’s time to explore 7 fun and challenging Side Plank variations, starting with the easiest and progressing towards the hardest. We will start on the ground, and work our way to a mini flow on the slackline. I recommend you warm up your wrist before you get started, because all of these variations are using the wrist. A warm wrist is a healthy wrist, and a healthy wrist is a strong wrist! I like arm balances and core strengthening and this series of side plank progressions incorporates both. Here is a list of the progressions we are exploring.
- On the ground
- On the ground One leg up
- Arm on the ground Leg on the slackline
- Arm on the ground Leg on the slackline- One leg up
- On the slackline
- On the slackline- One leg up
- Malasana- Side Plank (mini flow) on the slackline
Side plank (Vasisthasana) engages your hands, wrists, arms, shoulders, core, buttocks, and legs. Pretty much a whole body work out, with the added element of having to balance on one arm and one foot. When you add a slackline and remove the stable ground from under you, the micro muscles in your body really start to fire. Because it’s easy to get uneven in your body, typically training on side, I suggest that you train these poses on both sides. I want to offer you some ways to condition your body with one pose, Side Plank, but change-up the surface you train it on. As a result, increased strength and balance is offered to apply towards your daily life.
So let’s start with Side Plank on a supportive ground.
1. On the ground
First, let’s take a look at alignment and bone stacking. In Side Plank, you want to make sure your wrist bearing weight is directly under your shoulder. This will help protect your wrist as well as provide a solid bone stack. When you align two or more bones on top of each other it’s called bone stacking. This creates a very sturdy and structurally strong foundation to hold weight.
Next you want to keep your hips stacked on top of each other. Lift the top hip up towards the sky until you create a straight line from the heels -to the hip- to the shoulder. The tendency is for the bottom hip to sink towards the floor. Remember the hand that is on the ground is active, all fingers and thumb, along with the palm are pressing down firmly. With the core engaged, the top arm stretches up, fingers reaching to the sky. If you can, turn your head to look up towards your top hand, using your fingers as a drishti. Keep your legs tight, with your feet stacked on top of each other, heels and toes matched up.
That’s a basic overview of the Side Plank form, now just remember to breath when you are practicing and smile. It’s easy to get distracted when trying this out for the first few times. So use the breath as a guide to focus you and lead you to your inner strength. As we move forward, I encourage you to take breaks when you need to, and stretch your wrist out in-between poses.
2. On the ground – One leg up
This variation of Side Plank is a great way to give the core a little extra love. One of the most common tendencies here, is the raised leg to fall heel heavy, towards your back. This causes the hips to come off stack and usually the individual to fall backwards. Focus on the core and extend through your raised limbs, reaching to the sky, as if you can touch the clouds. This will stabilize you as you root into the ground with your weighted hand and foot.
3. Arm on the ground – Leg on the slackline
This is a fun variation that includes finding stability on something that moves. Be careful with your hand placement doing this one. Be sure your on a relatively flat surface and your wrist is stacked under your shoulder. With your legs on the line, there is more weight in your hand, causing you to make a lot of micro adjustments with the wrist. The more stacked you are over the wrist, the less you will be putting uncomfortable pressure on the wrist joint.
The foot placement on the line is either above or below the ankle bone, which ever is more comfortable to you. Play around with the foot placement and the distance your hand is away from the line until you find what feels best. Remember to raise your hip high, root your fingers into the ground, and breath.
4. Arm on the ground – Leg on the slackline – One leg up
Now it’s time to raise the bar and start removing stabilizing limbs. This pose really wants to fall backwards or forwards as you lift your top leg. Tighten your core and push into the slackline with your ankle, as you reach for the clouds again. I really believe a dishti or focus point settles you down in this pose to help find stillness. As you lift the top leg, engage your gluts and fire up your finger muscles. As in every one of these poses, try both side. You might just discover you are stronger on a side you might not thought to be dominant.
5. On the slackline
Side Plank on the slackline is a journey rather than a destination. There are constant adjustments to make, yet moments of stillness are achievable. With a continuous practice this pose will become available to you. With the training from this progression series, your body is learning and building intelligent habits to stabilize under challenging conditions, hence the slackline. Furthermore you have all the information in your muscle memory to find success in this pose. For a short tutorial on how I like to get into this pose visit our Instagram tutorial here. I offer some tips that may be helpful to find success, however, practice is the key to unlock the door to attainment.
6. On the slackline – One leg up
In addition to a core workout, this pose pushes you to find a mental strength to stay on the line. Since the leg is raised, the tendency again, is to fall backwards. If you feel to uncomfortable to try this one alone, now is a great time to ask a friend to come be a spotter. They simply stand close behind you while you are on the line, ready to assist your fall and protect you from injury. Because you have a spotter you may feel safe to try to push your boundaries of comfort, which can be challenging, but may also open you to experience of success. It’s incredibly amazing what we can accomplish when we are willing and when we feel safe.
Push down into the line at your foot connection point and your hand connection point. The Slackline is not the ground, but it’s what you have to support you, so use it. Also, it may be helpful to have a mantra while practicing this pose, a word or phrase you can repeat. This offers a another way to maintain focus during the impulse movements that occur to stabilize.
7. Malasana – Side Plank (mini flow) on the slackline
This is a sweet little flow to start feeling movement and transitions on the slackline. I speed it up a little bit, so I could show you the leg lift transfer at the end of the video. One of the most important points of focus when training this one, is to have fun and smile. This is not the longest flow and it may be easy for some of you. For those individuals, I recommend doing this flow as slow and controlled as possible. Be sure to record it and send me a link to check it out.
For those of you struggling with this flow, I recommend the same thing, slow and controlled. So many times we get excited and lose focus on breath, and start basing our actions from a state of reaction. One reaction can lead to another, and before you know it, success seems out of reach. Be willing to fail, to concentrate, and get up 8 times after falling 7. Also, I would love for you to record and send me your progress, attempts, failures, and success included.
In conclusion, I hope this series of Side Plank progressions helps to highlight the subtle muscular engagements necessary to find stillness. Often it’s our minds that are running around with thoughts and distractions. The Slackline is a great tool to train your mind to be in the moment, to be present. It’s also a great way to help shed the layers of distraction from the mind, to hear yourself and find yourself. While you practice, listen to your body and remember to celebrate each success, no mater how big or small.
Thanks for reading. Happy and safe training/playing to all of you.