By Elizabeth Towe

We like to think of winter as a time for recovery and cross training and planning your strategy for the coming year… or a time to retreat to the forest! Your escape to the forest may be walking, running, or mountain biking, and core stability is the common link to the success of your off-road endeavors.

So take this wintertime to increase your core strength game!

Why hold the same old plank for 5 minutes when there are so many other fun functional progressions!  This time we are taking the basic plank and adding quick hand lifts to bring attention to:

  • Finding the diagonal stability from arm to opposite leg that is critical for running and managing uneven terrain.
  • Quickly yet smoothly alternating this stabilization force across the diagonals with the torso and pelvis holding position.


  • Start in a long arm plank position, with hands under the shoulders.  Engage the shoulder blades to connect to the back of the ribcage and bring the sternum forward (think “really good posture, horizontal”)
  • Without rolling or shifting the body, lift your right arm.  Bring the right hand back to the start position and lift your left hand. Start slowly, mindful of keeping stable from the standing shoulder through to the opposite foot.
  • Continue this hand lifting movement and mindful weight shift at a pace where you can maintain your spine and pelvis position without dropping or shifting.
  • Find a smooth rhythm and be sure that you continue to breath throughout the entire set. (Don’t hold your breath)
  • Repeat 10x to each side, 2-3 sets

Elizabeth Towe is a runner and a cyclist and the owner of Balanced Movement Studio in Carrboro. She graduated from East Carolina with a degree in exercise and sports science and has been personal training for over 20 years. Her ultimate goal for all of her clients is to help them realize and achieve the optimal quality in their life – and to remember to have fun doing it.