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Why Go WAY Beyond The Side Plank

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It is kinda my running joke when I present at conferences. When you look at the number of exercises people know when it comes to sagittal plane training, it almost seems endless.

side plank

However, when we start going to frontal plane exercises, that number of exercises people feel that they can use shrinks so dramatically it looks like something like the following…

side plank

There is nothing wrong with these frontal plane movements, they just don’t represent the very large number of exercises we have actually access to in developing great frontal plane strength. So there are really a few things we need to address…

-Why is frontal plane strength important

-Why we need to go beyond the side plank

-How we have better progressions of frontal plane exercises

No problem, but let’s get to it!

Why Is Frontal Plane Strength Important? 

Now, you probably won’t ever hear a client of any sort really want to improve their frontal plane strength, or anyone on social media going “beast mode” on their frontal plane strength training. So, why in the world would we make it such a priority?

For one, the muscles that make up the frontal plane (pretty much everything that runs laterally on your body as you will see) keep us from completely falling over as we move in life. Yes, when we walk, run, hike, climb stairs, you name it, the frontal plane chain of the body keeps us from completely collapsing to the side. Not only completely falling over, but having “energy leaks” and movement compensations that would result in many issues from the knees, hips, low backs, even to the shoulders, and neck.

Not only does the lateral chain help us reduce injury and move better in life, but it can also be key in unlocking our strength potential. I’ve told the story many times that I would work with powerlifters and competitive strongmen, not only their competition lifts, but identifying what was missing in their training. Sure, the side plank played a role, but so did far more dynamic and progressive frontal plane strength exercises like our MAX lunge for example. Using the MAX lunge, some step-ups, and only a handful of other drills helped this powerlifter blast his squat plateau of 800 pounds.

side plank

So, if we recap, we will train A LOT of muscles at once, help be more injury resilient, move more efficiently, and be able to demonstrate higher levels of strength. Sold yet?

Why Go Beyond The Side Plank

Don’t get me wrong, the side plank IS an important exercise. It allows us to teach many concept of lateral stability in a more stable environment and we have a ton of progressions we can use. However, there are two things to remember, how we teach the side plank (force from the ground up) and where we go with the side plank training are the biggest keys!

After all, the goal of the side plank is to build skills and strength that allow us to move to more challenging environments. That would be simple progressions to positions like a half kneeling position.

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Just like the side plank, the key is how do you use the body in this position and how are you thinking about using and moving the weight?

DVRT Master, Cory Cripe and Jordan Rudolph break down some essentials in getting a lot out of what looks like a simple exercise.

DVRT UK master, Greg Perlaki, shows a simple way to introduce owning the half kneeling position and learning how to use the core correctly.

We can amplify these benefits by using our Core Strap with a band and forcing the body to learn how to create more stability while also developing healthy shoulders and mobile hips.

Douglas Sheppard of J & D Fitness shows one of our favorite uses of half kneeling positions with our DVRT lifts/chops

Physical Therapist, Jessica Bento, helps us take that lift/chop and add even more great functional fitness to it!

Where Do We Go With Our Side Plank?

Half kneeling is an awesome option, but we don’t want to live half kneeling either. Now we COULD make half kneeling more challenging by altering the base of support and/or the complexity of the movement as physical therapist, Jessica Bento shows…

Making your side plank and more importantly, frontal plane training more functional is done by moving with greater speeds and in more functional positions.


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A post shared by Martín Adame, CSCS, (@martinadame1)

 Strength Coach, Martin Adame, shows lunges in of themselves are great ways to build frontal plane stability and the more reactive we make these drills the more frontal plane strength we get out of it! Plus, drills like shoveling and our MAX movements have the weight move through both the sagittal and transverse planes, but they end up with HEAVY resistance in the frontal plane.

Coach Cari Satre shows how we can put these ideas without losing our side plank foundation into a great total body workout that emphasizes all these principles. Understanding DVRT is understanding how the body functions and moves. That is why we emphasize the why so that the tool simply allows us to express these ideas the very best ways possible!

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A post shared by Cari Satre (@coachcariii)