A plank is the squat of core exercises: you should have a perfect one in your exercise repertoire. Mastering a basic plank is the key to building to more complex and dynamic variations like a rolling plank. Planks are amazing for building up your shoulder and back strength, as well as locking up your core muscles. Add in the motion and the need to maintain balance with the rolling plank and you've got a multifaceted fitness move. Like anything, form is key, and the best way to start is to modify until you are confident and can move without fear of collapsing. Follow these steps and you'll be planking and rolling with the best of them!
- Start in high plank position with your hands directly under your shoulders, fingers pointing forward.
- Drop your left knee to the ground and rotate your hips counter clockwise until your right hip is directly over your left hip (perpendicular to the ground).
- Lift your right arm straight up, making sure that your shoulders are stacked in a direct line, your right shoulder above your left.
- You should look like a T angled on its side (with a cute little kickstand).
- Keep your right leg extended over your bent left leg.
- Lift your hips by squeezing your glutes to keep your side body in a straight line from shoulders to the end of the straight leg.
- Slowly rotate your right arm back to the ground as you lift the left knee to return to full plank.
- Repeat the process on the other side: drop the right knee, rotate your hips clockwise as your left arm opens to stack the left shoulder over the right. The left leg stays straight over the bent right knee. Squeeze those glutes!
- Do 3 sets of 10 (one rep equals rolling to both sides).
Once you have mastered the modified version, move on to the full rolling plank by keeping both knees up the entire time. As you roll to the right, the left arm sweeps up and the left leg stacks on top of the right with both legs fully elongated. The downward pull on the hips will be much stronger now, so don't forget to tighten your booty to get the nice straight line. Hold the T for a few seconds before slowly and purposefully dropping the left arm back down to roll to the other side. Repeat on the other side. (Another modification for people with shoulder issues/injuries is to start in forearm plank: you will do the same rotations and arm and leg extensions but going to the elbow takes a significant amount of pressure off of the wrist, elbow, and shoulder joints).
The key to this move is slow controlled movements. If you move too fast or flail your arms, you'll wind up falling over. Try to hold the positions independently for a few seconds before moving on to the next part of the sequence. Add this move into your strength workouts twice a week instead of your regular plank. If you want an extra special challenge, and I know you do, add a push-up in between sides: roll to the right, back to center for a push-up, roll to the left. It's an advanced move but will be a game-changer for your strength goals!