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Progression of Core Stability Exercises Based on the Extent of Muscle Activity

Calatayud, Joaquin PhD; Casaña, José PhD; Martín, Fernando PhD; Jakobsen, Markus D. PhD; Colado, Juan Carlos PhD; Andersen, Lars L. PhD

American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation: October 2017 - Volume 96 - Issue 10 - p 694–699
doi: 10.1097/PHM.0000000000000713
Original Research Articles

Objective The aim of this cross-sectional study was to evaluate a variety of isometric plank exercises.

Design Twenty university students performed the following eight different variants of plank exercises in random order and with 1-min rest intervals: stable prone plank, suspended prone plank, stable roll-out plank, suspended roll-out plank, unilateral stable prone plank, unilateral suspended prone plank, stable lateral plank, and suspended lateral plank. Surface electromyography signals were recorded for the upper rectus abdominis, lower rectus abdominis, external oblique, lumbar erector spinae, and normalized to the maximum voluntary isometric contraction.

Results The suspended prone plank and the suspended roll-out plank provided the greatest upper rectus abdominis activity. The greatest lower rectus abdominis activity was induced by the suspended roll-out plank. The highest lumbar erector spinae activity was provided by the suspended and stable lateral planks. The suspended prone plank and the suspended roll-out plank provided the greatest external oblique activity, although not significantly different from the suspended lateral plank.

Conclusions Muscle activity could be progressed using the different exercises. Although suspended prone plank and the suspended roll-out plank were most efficient for the abdominal muscles, suspended and stable lateral planks were most efficient for the lumbar muscles.

From the Research Unit in Sports and Health (J. Calatayud, FM, JCC), and Department of Physiotherapy (J. Casaña), University of Valencia, Valencia, Spain; National Research Centre for the Working Environment, Copenhagen, Denmark (J. Calatayud, MDJ, LLA); and Physical Activity and Human Performance group, SMI, Department of Health Science and Technology, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark (LLA).

All correspondence and requests for reprints should be addressed to: Juan Carlos Colado, PhD, Universidad de Valencia (FCAFE), Aulario Multiusos, C/Gasco Oliag 3, 46010 Valencia, Spain.

Financial disclosure statements have been obtained, and no conflicts of interest have been reported by the authors or by any individuals in control of the content of this article.

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