Jul 5, 2018
Better Plank

As a strength coach, you’ve probably had your athletes do planks or side planks during a weight room session. While these movements are great for engaging core stabilizers, coaches can help their athletes get more benefit from the side plank by adding a row. In an article for Ulty Results, NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and FMS-Certified Professional Ren Caldwell explains that the side plank cable row not only builds up the core, but also teaches anti-rotation.

In a video for her blog, Caldwell explains that the side plank row requires dynamic core stabilization as athletes work to keep the cable from pulling them over. In a blog for The Athletic Build, the authors echo this sentiment, explaining that adding dynamic movements increase the benefits that athletes gain from planks. And not only do these benefits include anti-rotation work, the side plank row also works each side on its own, helping reduce muscular imbalances.

As with any exercise, it is important that you athletes engage in the correct movements to lessen the chance of injury. Here are the steps to carrying out the side plank row, according to Caldwell:

  1. If you are using a cable machine, the cable should be low. If you are using a band, fix it to something that will not move.
  2. Find the side plank position.
  3. Align your shoulder over your elbow and make sure your shoulder, hips, and feet are all in line.
  4. Pull straight back and hold for a few seconds. Make sure you are stable in this position.
  5. Slowly return to your original position.

Athletes who feel comfortable can also do this exercise without holding during a repetition. However, Caldwell stresses the importance of staying controlled throughout the entire movement in this variation. This means not allowing your momentum to pull you through the movement and not letting the cable/band pull you around. Whether you decide to utilize the hold or not, it’s important that your athletes constantly engage the glutes and core to stay in that straight line.

“Mak[e] sure that you keep your hips in line with your shoulders and your ankles so your body is in one big long line,” says Caldwell. “It’s really easy to kind of stick your butt out or let your hips kind of open up towards the ceiling. So you really want to feel as though you are being kind of squished between two planes of glass, one on the front and one on the back of your body, and everything is in a nice long line.”

If you notice your athlete struggling with the side plank row, or if they are experiencing lower back strain, Caldwell suggests trying the exercise with their knees down. In this position, athletes’ feet should be tucked behind them. However, the knees should still be aligned with the hips and the movement is done with the same engaging of the glutes and core.

To see this exercise in action, check out this video from Garrett McLaughlin, ATC, CSCS, ART.

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