Plank progressions: protect your back, build your core

As you start counting down the "12 days of Fitness" be mindful of your personal strengths and limitations, adapting form and position to safely challenge yourself. You want to find the sweet spot where retaining good form and muscle fatigue intersect. If you are just returning to activity or recovering from an injury, consider using your knees or elbows in place of toes or hands. If planking for one minute feels routine then try lifting and extending the opposite arm and leg or side planking instead.

Check out the progression of plank positions as modelled by some of the CorePhysio team. We will be posting other modifications througout the challenge so watch our blog for more suggestions. Visit our Facebook page for a chance to win a CorePhysio t-shirt by posting photos of your own 12-Day challenge! Festive headgear is optional :-)

For each variation, be sure to keep your core muscles engaged (no arching or piking!), keep your neck elongated with a slight chin tuck, and your shoulders stacked over your elbows or hands. Your knees or feet can be together or shoulder width apart.

None of these exercises should cause pain; if they do, stop immediately and seek the advice of your doctor or therapist.

Knees & elbows plankElbows & knees plank variation

Progress to toes & elbows OR knees & hands. Add an extra challenge by lifting and reaching one arm or leg.Toes and elbows plank variation  One arm extended plank

Standard plank, hands & toes. Add a challenge by extending an arm, a leg or both. Really concentrate on keep your core stable and not sagging your hips or shoulders with the extension. Reach the extending fingertips and toes to the opposite walls. If you can't manage GREAT form, then bring it back a level.   Standar plank with extension of arm and legStandard plank, hands & toes

Side plank, and side plank with leg and arm extension. Keep your shoulder stacked over your wrist, don't let your hip sag towards the ground or your top hip lean forward. Reach your fingertips to the ceiling.

Side plankSide plank with arm & leg extension