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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.

    Return to Home Page from Side Plank


    Gumroad, Yoga for your shoulders, available in epub, pdf and mobi. Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.

    Gumroad, Yoga for your shoulders, available in epub, pdf and mobi. Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.

    Improve Arm and Leg Strength

    What's New?

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    Continue reading "An Exercises for Knee Stability, The Seated Get Up"

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    Basic Yoga Poses

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    Scapular Awareness

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    Hip Flexor Strengthening Exercises

    Some hip flexor strengthening exercises.

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    Arm Strengthening Exercises

    These yoga poses can be used as arm strengthening exercises.

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    Leg Strengthening Exercises

    Turn yoga poses into leg strengthening exercises using floor pressing actions, leverage and friction.

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    Hip Strengthening Exercises

    One way of finding and fixing hip problems is to do standing hip strengthening exercises while balancing on one leg.

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    Knee Anatomy for Yoga Teachers

    Knee anatomy for yoga teachers looks at the bones and muscles that comprise the back of the knee in simple terms.

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    Kneeling Quadriceps Stretch

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    Quadriceps Stretching Yoga Poses

    When doing quadriceps stretching it may help to activate and then relax your quadriceps in these standing, lunging, pigeon and supine yoga pose variations.

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    Lying Quadriceps Stretch

    Some exercises and yoga poses for working towards a lying quadriceps stretch one leg at a time.

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    Benefits of The Dance of Shiva

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    Yoga Routine Video for Strengthening Arms and Legs Via Friction and Pressure

    This yoga routine video is designed to help you strengthen your arms and legs via the use of friction and pressure. It also teaches you how to become more aware of your body.

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    Transverse Abdominis Exercises

    The transverse abdominis muscle can be broken down into three parts. Transverse abdominal exercises can thus affect the SI Joint, lumbar spine and the lower portion of the ribcage.

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    Knee Strengthening Exercises

    To improve the resiliency of your knees it can help to exercise them in a variety of positions. The following yoga poses can be used as knee strengthening exercises. The trick is to activate your knees while doing them.

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    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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    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.

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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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    Yoga for Strength

    Basic Stability

    Exercises for Improving Core, Pelvis and SI Joint Awareness and Control

    Back Strengthening Exercises

    Arm and Shoulder Strengthening Exercises

    Arm Strengthening Yoga Poses

    Leg Strengthening Exercises

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    Learn to Activate Your
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    Yoga and Weights/Kettlebells