Here are some Pilates workout tips and preparatory exercises to help keep your shoulders secure and develop strong core support for a successful side plank in an advanced Pilates Mat workout.
Because this exercise involves balancing the body laterally on one arm and one leg, the side plank exercise is an intermediate or advanced level exercise, so sufficient preparation must be done before attempting this exercise to ensure successful execution. and avoid the risk of injury. In his book Back to life, Joseph Pilates called this exercise the “Side Bend”. There are many challenging variations, but before doing them, it is important to be able to support your body in a basic plank position.
The side plank / flexion is an excellent exercise to build strength in the arms, shoulders, lats, lumbar spine, hips, and legs. It offers a real challenge, to balance the body perched on one hand and one foot, the pelvic floor, the inner thighs, the center and the outer part of the hips must be strong and active enough to help maintain balance and body control.
As with all the other Pilates exercises you do, training and organizing your body for efficient movement is crucial so that you can enter and exit the side plank exercise safely. This is a great exercise to work on your arm and shoulder strength if done correctly, but it can result in shoulder pain, problems, or injury if performed poorly.
If you want to add the Plank exercise to your Pilates exercise routine, make sure you’ve taken enough training time to prepare by doing other strengthening exercises for your arms, shoulders, hips, and abs.
The preparatory training exercises you do for weeks, months, or even years before adding the side plank to your workouts should also continue to be done as “warm up” exercises when you add the side plank exercise to your program, so your body is ready to do this challenging advanced Pilates Mat exercise and not hurt yourself.
Pilates Matwork Exercises to Prepare for Side Bend:
Push-ups, front plank, front leg pull, leg reverse, hip circles, and hand exercises are important prerequisites for a good side plank exercise.
Additionally, the Reformer, Chair, Cadillac, and Barrel exercises that focus on upper body strength and proper shoulder mechanics will also be of great help as you progress through the Side Plank exercise.
Exercises with Pilates equipment to strengthen the upper body and prepare for the side plank:
- Reformer: Long Stretch, Up Stretch, Long Back Stretch, Knees Out, Short Box Side Bend
- Cadillac: Arm Springs – Circles, Combination, Triceps, Push Bar Mermaid, Extended Eagle, Rotating Bar Exercises – Standing / Kneeling – Chest Expansion, 1 Arm Pull, Combination Garage Door Salute, Arms long elastic back
- Chair: Push-ups, 1 Arm Press, Pica, Side Pica, 1 Arm Pica, Mermaid, Kneeling Mermaid
- Column corrector: Mermaid, painting a rainbow and other shoulder mechanics exercises
- Stair barrel: Side Bends (Reformer Short Box and Full Side Bend to the sides on the barrel)
Fletcher Towelwork® exercises are also great for improving upper body strength and shoulder mechanics, as well as working on lateral body movement. I like to incorporate some of the Reformer’s seated Fletcher Towelwork® (straddle) from time to time, or other seated lateral flexion exercises, after the Seated Twist at the end of the stomach massage series.
It is also very useful to practice standing side bending exercises as it is similar to the position of the plank / side bending exercise on the advanced mat. Keeping your arms extended overhead with the resistance of spreading a towel (Fletcher Towelwork®) or holding a stick, and maintaining good shoulder mechanics while bending your body.