Crush Your Abs, Shoulders, and Core with This Dynamic Marching Plank
Dr. Joel Seedman, Ph.D.
If you’re looking for a full body stabilization drill that not only taxes the core, shoulders, and triceps but also acts as a dynamic warm-up and conditioning tool, try this dynamic marching inch plank as demonstrated by my awesome client Matt Jordan.
Although the movement can be performed moving forward, backward, and laterally (left and right) the backwards variation is the most difficult. Rather than allowing large movements to occur, focus on using small inch-like steps with the arms and legs. In addition try to keep the appendages straight throughout as this engages the core as well as the hips and shoulder stabilizers to a greater degree. By using small deliberate movements, this allows the athlete to keep the spine rigid and the core more intensely braced. In addition, don’t allow the torso to wiggle or sway as you lift each arm and leg. Instead focus on bracing the abs and locking in the spine.
I typically use these as a combination core stabilization, anti-extension, and rotary stability exercise as the body will have a tendency to shift and wiggle each step unless the core is fully engaged. I usually superset these and other core stabilization drills with axial loaded movements such as squats, deadlifts, and hinges. This helps improve core activation and spinal rigidity on the heavy barbell movements. Besides helping the individual handle greater loads due to greater full body tension and concurrent activation potentiation, it also helps to protect the spine by ensuring the core is locked in throughout.
Lastly, you’ll notice the tall hip position that Matt uses. This is a critical yet oftentimes neglected component of all plank variations. Rather than flexing the glutes (as most coaches and trainers would incorrectly cue), focus on keeping the hips tall by firing the hip flexors and quads as well as hollowing out the core and pulling the abs in.
I typically recommend 20-30 seconds of total time under tension for each set. You can also perform them in a mechanical drop set fashion as Matt shows here by performing the backward version first (the more difficult marching plank), followed immediately by the forward variation (the easier version) once the core fatigues.