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  • Side Plank
    Progression for Shoulder Strength, Ab Strength,
    Leg Strength and Hamstring Flexibility

    Side plank variations bottom knee and elbow bent, top knee lifted, neil keleher, sensational yoga poses.

    When working with beginners, I usually like to go through a progressively harder set of side plank preparation exercises. One reason for this is to train shoulder awareness so that they can effectively stabilize their scapula, another is so that they learn how to use their legs to lift their hips, first with knee bent, then with knee straight using the top leg (for the inner thighs) and then the bottom leg (for the outer thighs). In combination with this another aspect is learning to activate muscles at the front of the lifted leg (quadriceps and hip flexors) followed by the muscles at the back of the leg (hamstrings and possibly gluteus maximus.) One way to do this is to lift the knee or leg without holding on to it.

    For each set, I like to repeat both sides before moving on to the next set.

    Side Plank Exercise Activating the Scapular Stabilizers

    Side plank variations knees and elbow bent, preparation shoulder relaxed, neil keleher, sensational yoga poses.
    Side plank variations knee sand elbow bent; shoulder engaged chest liftedneil keleher, sensational yoga poses.

    Generally I like to start with bent elbows so that the focus is on the shoulders (as opposed to the wrist.) Focus on using the shoulder to push the ribcage up.

    Side Plank-Lifting the Hips with Knees Bent

    Side plank variations, knees and elbow bent, chest and hips lifted neil keleher, sensational yoga poses.
    Side plank variations, knees and elbow bent, top arm reaching up, neil keleher, sensational yoga poses.

    With shoulder lift the next step is to use the outer thigh muscles to lift the pelvis. Keep the shoulder engaged and from there reach the top arm up.

    Side plank variations bottom knee and elbow bent, top knee lifted, neil keleher, sensational yoga poses.
    Side plank variations, bottom knee and elbow bent, top leg lifted with knee straight, neil keleher, sensational yoga poses.

    Next lift the top knee and point it upwards. Here you can practice engaging the quadriceps. If that's no problem try to straighten the knee without holding on to the foot.

    Side Plank with the Elbow Straight

    Side plank variations, knees bent elbow straight, neil keleher, sensational yoga poses.
    Side plank variations, knees bent, elbow straight, hips lifted, neil keleher, sensational yoga poses.
    Side plank variations, knee bent, elbow straight, top knee lifted, neil keleher, sensational yoga poses.
    Side plank variations, knee bent, elbow straight, top knee lifted and straight, neil keleher, sensational yoga poses.

    For side plank with the elbow straight try pressing down with the tips of the fingers and the heel of the hand. You can also try pressing the hand outwards as well as downwards. Lift the hips and as before lift the top knee straight up. It'll be harder this time because of the higher angle of the body. Pause for a few breaths then if you like straighten the knee without holding on to the foot.

    Side Plank for the Inner Thigh

    Side plank variations, elbow straight, bottom knee bent, top leg straight neil keleher, sensational yoga poses.
    Side plank variations, elbow straight, bottom knee bent and lifted, top knee straight, neil keleher, sensational yoga poses.

    With hips lifted lift the top foot, straighten the knee and place the foot on the floor. Press the top foot into the floor so that the leg feels strong then lift the bottom shin. Keep the shoulder active.

    Side Plank for the outer Thigh

    Side plank variations, hips lifted, bottom foot behind top foot, neil keleher, sensational yoga poses.
    Side plank variations, top knee lifted, neil keleher, sensational yoga poses.

    From the previous position set the bottom foot on the floor either in front of or behind the top foot. Lift the top knee.

    Side Plank and Exercising the Hamstrings

    Side plank variations, bottom knee and elbow straight, top leg reaching upwards, neil keleher, sensational yoga poses.
    Side plank variations, knee and elbow straight, top leg lifted with big toe held, neil keleher, sensational yoga poses.

    From the previous straighten the top knee. If you need to, bend the knee to grab the side of the foot or big toe. Then straighten the knee. Activate the back of the thigh as if trying to pull the foot away from the hand.

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    Conscious Muscle Control

    Improve Strength and Flexibility

    What's New?

    Quads and Superficial Hip Flexors

    Learn to consciously control your quads and hip flexors with Conscious Muscle Control: Quads and Superficial Hip Flexors. This downloadable video course teaches you how to feel and activate your quadriceps (the vastus muscles) as well as the rectus femoris, tensor fascae latae and sartorius muscles.

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    Yoga for Flexibility

    Yoga for flexibility with stretches for the hips, quads, hamstrings, glutes, psoas, shoulders and arms. These yoga stretches are designed to improve flexiblity.

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    Calf Stretches

    For any calf stretch you have to bend your ankle forwards to stretch the soleus and/or gastrocnemius. How you bend the ankle forwards can make the stretch more or less effective.

    Continue reading "Calf Stretches"

    Learning to Activate Hamstrings and Glutes

    Glute and Hamstring activation can be used to compliment the quad and hip flexors for a balanced practice. Conscious Muscle Control: Hamstrings and Glutes is a video course designed to teach you how to activate your glutes and hamstrings at will. You'll also develop the ability to feel them activate and relax.

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    Learning to Activate Hamstrings and Glutes

    Glute and Hamstring activation can be used to compliment the quad and hip flexors for a balanced practice. Conscious Muscle Control: Hamstrings and Glutes is a video course designed to teach you how to activate your glutes and hamstrings at will. You'll also develop the ability to feel them activate and relax.

    Continue reading "Learning to Activate Hamstrings and Glutes"

    Learning to Activate your Quads and Superficial Hip Flexors

    Learn how to activate your quads and hip flexors so that you can use them at will. Conscious Muscle Control: Quads and Superficial Hip Flexors not only teaches you how to activate and relax your quads and hip flexors at will, it also teaches you how to feel when they are active and when they are relaxed. This clearly defined awareness can help you get more in touch with your body.

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    Arm Supported Yoga Poses

    Arm supported yoga poses can be used to strengthen the arms and shoulders. Includes plank, chaturanga dandasana, downward dog, dolphin pose, side plank, wheel, reverse plank, table top pose.

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    Stability in Yoga Poses

    Make your yoga poses less wobbly with less effort. Grounding and centering are two techniques for creating stability in yoga poses.

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    Exercises in Muscle Control

    Exercises in muscle control 1 teachers you how to activate and relax your knees, hips, front and back of the leg and also inner and outer thighs. These activations can be used in standing poses as leg strenghtening exercises and to improve flexiblity.

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    Transverse Abdominus Anatomy for Yoga Teachers

    The transverse abdominus muscle can affect the SI joint, lumbar and lower thoracic spine stability, used in various diaphragmatic breathing techniques and act as a tension adjuster for the rectus abdominus.

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    Effectively Activating Transverse Abdominus

    Effectively Activating Transverse Abdominus can mean better stability for the SI Joint as well as for the lumbar and lower thoracic spine.

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    Joint Pain Yoga

    Rather than fighting through joint pain here is an overview of the approach that I've used to help alleviate hip pain, knee pain or shoulder joint pain while doing yoga poses.

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    Feeling Your Center of Gravity

    Make balancing easier. Use pressure sensitivity to feel your center of gravity.

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    Camel Yoga Pose

    Camel Yoga Pose or ustrasana is a kneeling pose that can be used to stretch the hip flexors. One key action that may help in getting your pelvis forwards more is pushing your hands forwards, either against your feet or against the floor.

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    How to do Squats

    A yoga approach to how to do squats including how to stay balanced, and avoiding knee or hip pain even while going all the way down.

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    Transverse Abdominis and Sacroiliac Joint Stability

    The transverse abdominis can have an affect on sacroiliac joint stability as well as stability of the lumbar spine and the T12/L1 junction.

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    Fluid Tensegrity Joint Anatomy

    Fluid tensegrity joint anatomy looks at the tendency of the body to maintain space within the joints. The question is, how is this space maintained?

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    Why Improve Body Awareness

    Why improve body awareness? So that you can use your body more effectively and fix problems yourself when they arise.

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    Tensegrity

    How is tensegrity maintained at the joints even as the body adopts non-tensegrity postures or movements?

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    Being Present

    Why being present is the oppositve of thinking and how to utilize both modes effecively.

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    Dealing with Pain and Poor Posture

    Basic Awareness

    Poses

    Actions and Exercises

    Basic Principles for Yoga Poses