Side Planks

You could say that stability is strength but, more accurately, it is the ability to control movement in a joint.

Planks, they are great for learning to stabilize your trunk. They also give you an opportunity to engage your lats and pack your shoulders. Having control of your shoulders and keeping them down out of your ears is important to being able to control your shoulders at the top of your backswing. This will help you to position the club where you will have leverage and be able to keep your shaft on plane into impact. When you are doing planks, go for maximal tension. Activate all your muscles, flex your quads, squeeze your glutes, push your spine away from the floor, pull your shoulders down like you are trying to pull your elbows to your hips, and brace your abs like you are going to get kicked in the stomach.

When breathing during planks you will take shallow breaths to maintain the tension you are creating. Think of your abs as a shield. Breathe behind this shield. If you were to take deep belly breaths you would likely give up the tension that you need for a solid plank. Deep belly breaths would lead to a saggy spinal posture, which defeats the purpose of doing a plank.

Being able to push your body away from the floor and pull your shoulders down, out of your ears during the plank is going to help keep your shoulder stabilizers strong and happy. The major muscles at work here are the serratus anterior, and lower traps. These are the two muscles that counteract your upper traps, or those pesky muscles that keep your shoulders in your ears all day and keep your club off plane.

Side planks will challenge your shoulder stabilizers to keep your body over a small base of support, teaching your shoulder girdle to react and create control reflexively.

The tension that you learn to create here will help you to have not only a more stable rotator cuff but a more stable trunk/torso. Trunk stability will help protect your back and give you a stable base of support upon which to rotate your shoulders.

Give side planks a try during your next training session:

2-4 sets of 30 seconds each side

  • Lay on your right side with your elbow underneath your armpit.
  • Put your knees and feet will be together, making your body a straight line from your ears to your ankles.
  • Push your hips forward and up off the ground, so now you are balanced on your right forearm and foot. You body should be a straight line from your ears to your knees.
  • Pull your right arm down into the ground and toward your body. Feel your shoulder pulled down and back; engage the muscles in the back of your armpit.
  • Hold for the specified duration of time. Remember to be tight. Shake with tension. Think maximal tension/effort.
  • Repeat on the other side.
  • If having your legs straight is too hard, bend your knees to 90 degrees instead. 

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