Over the next couple weeks, I'm going to shift gears a bit and break down some of my favorite "corrective" drills that I sprinkle in throughout the programs I write. While all of the mobility drills we've discussed over the past few months are great for enhancing mobility, we also need to address to ability to stabilize under heavy loads to prevent injury. With that being said, I couldn't tell you the last time I wrote a program without the addition of a plank variation being included.
I don't care how long you're able to hold a plank for. If you brag to your buddies at the gym how you can hold a five minute plank, you're doing nothing but simply wasting your time. The most important factor that I look for in any plank variation prescribed is the amount of tension you're able to develop throughout your body. When done correctly, you shouldn't need more than five full breaths to really light your entire abdomen up.
I tend to use traditional planks in warm-ups or as a filler exercise between compound movements like the squat or deadlift. For side planks and planks with arm marches, I'll prescribe them later on in a workout routine alongside more unilateral work for both the upper and lower body.
Next week, I'll break down some of the more dynamic trunk stability exercises I love to use that help create context for the majority of your resistance training movements.