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Multiple Planes, Many Positions

Teach your class how to functionally train the core.

Participants may have a love-hate relationship with your core routines, but there’s no reason why you can’t make things fun while helping people to move, feel and look better. Ideally, the core-training exercises you choose will hit multiple planes from many positions (supine, prone, side-lying, sitting, kneeling, standing) while also stabilizing the pelvis, spine and scapulae. This functional approach prepares the body for the rigors of daily life.

Insert this 15-minute core/abs section into one of your next classes (or make it a stand-alone routine). First, warm up with 2–3 minutes of low planks and slow, controlled supine spinal-flexion and prone spinal-extension exercises, timing the moves so you are free to coach students; this also allows everyone to go at their own pace. Next, do the following five exercises. You will need Gliding™ discs or anything that slides easily on the floor (paper plates or furniture sliders, for example). Perform each move for 45 seconds, with a 15-second transition time, for a total of 5 minutes. Repeat once and then finish with a 2- to 3-­minute cooldown.



  • Sit with thoracic spine extended, knees bent.
  • Place one disc between knees to engage hip and spinal stabilizers, and hold another disc between hands.
  • Rotate thoracic spine right and left. Keep arms chest-height, centered with sternum.


Prone Plank/Mud Crawl


  • Start in plank with disc under each foot.
  • Have elbows directly under shoulders, arms parallel and aligned.
  • Extend legs and hips; spine is neutral.
  • Brace core, and gaze at fingers.
  • “Walk” forearms back four steps, then forward to original position.
  • Modification: Move back and forth only two steps or simply hold plank.


Lateral Slide


  • Sit with knees bent, stacked to R side, weight shifted slightly to R hip.
  • Place disc under R hand, R arm fully extended.
  • Slide disc R, abducting R shoulder. Use obliques, lats and shoulder adductors to slide disc back to original position.
  • Switch sides at halfway mark.
  • Modification: Decrease range of motion.


Prone Lat Pull (not pictured)

  • Lie prone, arms extended, shoulders flexed overhead, each hand on a disc.
  • Let legs be extended, slightly abducted and laterally rotated.
  • Lift abdominals, then use lats and abs to slide arms under shoulders.
  • Keep shoulder stabilizers engaged by depressing scapulae and staying broad through chest.
  • Slowly lower body back to floor, abdominals engaged.
  • Modification: Focus on lifting abdominals away from floor.




  • Sit in V-position, thoracic spine extended, knees bent, legs adducted.
  • Have both arms straight, hands on discs.
  • Roll straight down and back, flexing spine one vertebra at a time until lumbar spine and bottom back ribs are on floor. Simultaneously slide arms to sides, slightly above shoulders.
  • Use abdominals and obliques to roll up (peel spine off floor) to original V-position.
  • Progression: Roll to side-lying position and then return to V-position. Regression: Decrease range of motion.

Abbie Appel

Abbie Appel is an international fitness expert and educator who has written the SCW Ballet Barre Certification and the SCW Pilates Matwork Certification. She is a Rykä® FIT-PRO Ambassador and a senior master trainer and consultant for Schwinn® and TRX®. As a program design and instructor development specialist, Abbie creates and delivers programming for organizations such as Equinox, Crunch, and YMCA, among others. Abbie has contributed material to numerous fitness videos and publications such as Prevention and Shape magazines.

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