The side plank is an excellent exercise that helps build trunk stability and core strength. Recently I have been utilizing a new technique that comes from the research of Stuart McGill and is also utilized by the Kettlebell expert Pavel Tsatsouline. I also actually used the technique back in my martial arts days through the practice of breath control and the use of Chi.
Stuart McGill calls it “super stiffness” and Pavel describes it in his book The Naked Warrior (which I highly recommend) as “Zipping Up”. Essentially you develop the ability of isometrically tensing all your muscles while in a certain posture or during a certain exercise. McGill explains that this actually happens unconsciously at impact in the golf swing. Please don’t try to consciously do it, or you may have bad results. However I believe you can train this concept as you perform certain exercises such as the side plank.
As you watch the video below and then perform the exercise, I want you to try tensing your entire body when in the side plank position. From your fist, elbow, shoulder, trunk, hips and legs as you hold the position. This may take some practice, but it will give you great results. To start off, only hold the side plank for 10 seconds, and then switch to the other side. You can start with a few reps and progress up to 8-10 reps of 10 second holds.
Have fun adding super stability to your side plank!