Plank You Very Much

The plank has become a staple exercise to any conditioning program that aims to build core strength. While we agree that the plank is a great choice for a very certain type of core strength, most people are not performing the exercise optimally. If you want to improve your strength, avoid causing pain, and actually get benefit out of the exercise, you should make a few changes. We call this version the high hollow plank.

First, let’s discuss core strength. Core strength is a catch all term that most people relate to abdominal strength. When people hear “core”, they often think of planks, sit-ups, and crunches. These can definitely be part of a core strength program but we should realize that our core strength program should not only challenge the muscles in the front of the body (as the aforementioned exercises do) but the sides and back too. We like to think of core strength in terms of our spine’s ability to resist or create forces in certain directions.

Our spine can flex (bend forward), extend (arch backwards), rotate and laterally flexion (side bend). With those movements in mind, our spine can try to be static (resist a force trying to move me) or dynamic (create a force in a certain direction). So, a plank would be a static, anti-extension exercise, and a crunch would be a dynamic flexion exercise. A glute bridge would therefor be a dynamic extension exercise and a Pallof press would be a static anti-rotation challenge. Make sense? When looking at the selection of exercises you partake in during a given week or month, you should incorporate of variety of dynamic and static core exercises in a multiple planes.

The plank could be the most common core exercise. It is performed daily by millions around the world. We think just about everyone should change their form to make this exercise much more effect.

Most people resemble a suspension bridge when in their plank position. Their head hangs down, they sag between their shoulder blades and the low back and hips slump towards the ground. People can often hold this position for minutes on end without great effort.

This is a the typical position most people do a front plank in. This position can be improved upon to be more effective.

Instead of hanging like a suspension bridge on your connective tissue and end ranges of your lower back joints, actively create an arched bridge by using the muscles responsible for resisting extension forces. The front plank is an static, anti-extension challenge so we want the muscles responsible resisting extension to do the work. We want this movement to be hard, not painful. There is a difference. This is especially important if you are hypermobile, with a dramatic curve to your lower back and very flexible in your hamstrings. You may even suffer from lower back pain and hip impingement type discomfort.

How to perform a more beneficial front plank.

To perform a more beneficial plank, make a few important changes:

  • Push through your hands, not your elbows: We are wired to activate better by pushing with our hands. This will better recruit the muscle of your shoulders and shoulder blades (serratus anterior muscles) preventing that dreaded sagging.
    • Not only should you push through the hands but actively push your chest away from the ground. This will be an important self cue “push your chest away from the ground”.
  • As you pull your belly button in towards your spine, tuck your tail by forcefully squeezing your glutes (gluteus maximus muscles).
    • This is the bread and butter of the improved plank position. I want you to tuck your tail (tilt your pelvis backwards) and flatten out your spine. Your lower abs and glutes can work as a team to accomplish this, however, sustaining your glute contractions (squeeze) will ultimately be the hardest part of this position for most people. It’s amazing that most people really struggle to maintain any type of forceful contraction in this position but when they can stand and do it there is no problem. You must learn how to use your glutes to protect from extension forces at your spine. This is your next self cue “belly button in, glutes squeezed tight).
  • Finally, as you tuck your tail you should also move up onto your toes so that the soles of your feet are vertical.
    • This will make your plank much more challenging by moving your weight distribution from mostly in your feet to more in your hands. You will immediately feel the difficulty of your plank rise as the core and upper body must work substantially harder. The final self cue “up on my toes”.
Try changing your front plank to the more active version up on your hands, tail tucked, glutes on and feet vertical.

Using the new self cues listed above of: 1. Push chest away 2. Pull belly in and squeeze glutes and 3. Move up onto the toes, you can start turning the front plank into an exercise that reaps incredible rewards. You’ll immediately realize that the old way of performing the plank is mostly a waste of time. Try working up towards 30 seconds per rep and do 3-5 reps during a session.

Need 1 more visual to drive this home? Check out this comparison image. Most trainers and coaches would say the top picture is good form…but now you know otherwise.

A clear contrast in plank strategy.
Tired of reading? Check out this video explanation. Turn your sound up.

Choosing the Right Physical Therapist for your ACL Rehab

The physical therapy profession is a very broad field. Many people think of physical therapists
working with athletes or helping people treat low back pain but did you know some therapists
only work with kids? Some work in nursing homes and others go to people’s houses. Physical
therapists tend to specialize in treating certain types of patients over time and some
even do more advanced training after physical therapy graduate school to formally specialize in
an area. It is important to realize this when choosing the right physical therapist for your ACL rehab.

Here is a list of things to consider when selecting your therapist:

  • Experience matters. Ask your therapist how many ACL patients he/she treats in a given year. You want someone with experience helping people along this path. Experience goes a long way in recognizing when things are going well or in the wrong direction.
  • Look for certain initials after a therapist’s name (ie Jill Smith, PT, DPT, OCS, CSCS). These specific initials indicate an elevated level of education, dedication and interest in areas that will help you. There are a ton of other certifications out there but here is a list of the initials you should put the most stock in:
    • OCS – Orthopedic Clinical Specialist (board certified by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialists)
    • SCS – Sports Medicine Certified Specialist (board certified by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialists)
    • FAAOMPT – Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Therapists
    • CSCS – Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (National Strength and Conditioning Association)
  • Along the same lines as above, some physical therapists get additional formal education and training in orthopedic or sports medicine through a residency or fellowship after PT school. If you see this in their bio it’s a very good sign you are going to get a very capable therapist. Residency or fellowship training can make up for years of experience.
  • Ask the potential physical therapist how they determine when you are ready to return to sports, work, and life. A therapist who treats ACL surgery patients should know what tests and measures they want someone to pass and why. They should also be able to modify this list depending on the needs and expectations of the individual. Again, this goes back to the idea that experience matters.
  • Does the physical therapist treat you or do they hand you off to someone else working under their license? You and your insurance company are paying for the skilled care of a physical therapist. Many clinics are called “mills” because you get put into a system that runs you through a process that is based more on maximizing how much they can bill your insurance instead of maximizing how well they care for the patient. These high volumes can make you feel like a number. A good question to ask during your research is “Are my visits done 1 on 1 with my physical therapist?”. It’s not impossible to get good care from clinics that use a team approach to your treatment but if that is the case I’d do some extra research.
  • Look around the clinic. Does the clinic and the patients in it look like a place you belong? Do you see other people of your age and ability level? Is there equipment or access to equipment that will continue to challenge you?
  • Does the clinic or therapist accept your insurance if you are going to use it? Most people who have surgery have met their deductible. This typically means that all post surgery physical therapy appointments will be maximally covered. A typical private insurance will cover 80% of your physical therapy bill AFTER your deductible is met. You should call the number on the back of your insurance card and ask the company representative about your physical therapy benefits and what you will be responsible for. Remember, this is your knee and your life. Choosing a physical therapist only because they are in your network may not be the best choice, but you should be fully aware and educated on what the likely cost of your rehab is going to be in any situation.
  • Clinic location can be important. If you are going to go back to work or school soon after surgery and want to work with your therapist frequently for rehab sessions, consider how much time getting to and from the clinic it will take. This speaks to knowing yourself. I have some clients who only need to see me a couple times a month because they are excellent about doing their homework and understand their body well. Others need a little more supervision, encouragement or are having a difficult time in their rehab and I need to see them more often.

I hope this list helps you find a great physical therapist who can help you meet all of your goals. Leave a comment below if you need any further explanation.

If you want more content to help guide you back from ACL Injury check out our ACL Pre-hab
Guide. The ACL Pre-hab Guide will give you all the information you’ll need to prepare your knee
for surgery and life for immediately after. Learn all about it HERE

Thanks for reading,
Kyle Sela, PT, DPT, OCS, SCS
Physical Therapist
Board Certified Specialist in Orthopedic and Sports Medicine


The Top 5 Strength and Conditioning Coach Instagram Accounts to Follow NOW – 2021 Edition

Social media is a blessing and a curse. This article focuses on what is awesome about social media, learning new things. As strength coaches, physical therapists, other movement professionals, or just regular people interested in fitness; we are always looking for new ideas and inspiration. Instagram has become the “go to” medium for the advancement of our professions and fitness or performance training. Every year we scour the internet looking for the best 5 accounts to highlight. These are the people who consistently make us say, “Why didn’t I think of that?”.

What we considered when making our list –

  • Actual experience in the field programming and coaching athletes or reviewing and creating research related to strength and conditioning.
  • Someone who has a specific athlete population that they work with, but it’s obvious their programs and techniques would crossover to other athlete types.
  • Fitness models are not strength and conditioning coaches. They are not on our list.
  • We appreciate creativity, but not gimmicks,when it come to exercise creation and selection.
  • While we love when a coach is someone who is keeping him or herself fit…we put more stock in coaches who consistently get OTHER people to perform better, improve their fitness and become more resilient.

This is not a ranking of best to worst, just our top five for 2021. Here is the Movement Guides Top Strength and Conditioning Coach Instagram Accounts to Follow in 2021:

  1. realgame.athletics – Get ready to drop your jaw. Alex Whitehair brings some of the most creative exercises and progressions that I’ve ever seen on Instagram. Better yet, they are all performed with exquisite form and with obvious benefits. I find myself hitting the “save” button on almost all of his posts. He seems to primarily focus on plyometrics and rotational power and he uses boxes, bands and pendulum (landmine) movements in ways you’ve never considered. This man is a tremendous athlete and if nothing else you’ll be hypnotized by his hand movements! If you train top end athletes or are a high level athlete yourself, you must give this man a follow. While you are at it, create a realgame collection in your “saved” folder and get ready to fill it up quickly.
  2. nooch_13 – Carmen Del Mastro is just so damn smart. I’m serious, his combinations of movements and modalities can be applied to just about any team sport or explosive individual sport. His technique is always on point and you’ll find consistency across movements. What do I mean by this? Well, for one, his videos always demonstrate “triple flexion” of the up leg and “triple extension” of the power leg. These details are not important sometimes, they are important all the time. Much like Alex Whitehair above, Carmen is very creative but not stupid creative. You will find many useful progressions and tweaks to many of the movements you’re probably already programming. If you have not already done so, click on the nooch_13 profile, hit follow and start taking notes.
  3. coachtaragarrison – Tara Garrison is the real deal. She has an incredible story. Losing everything at one point in her life, going through a complete transformation and building herself up to the incredible fitness coach and motivational person that she is now. Tara promotes training heavy, hard and often to women…which I think is so needed. Too many female fitness “influencers” promote incessant boot camp, HIIT, pink weight bullshit. She is on a mission to crush workout “myths” that seem to perpetuate women’s fitness culture. Coach Garrison understands physiology, training science and proper form. This means she is not just a good follow and coach for women but for all genders. What’s really great about her feed is that you get top level workouts, seriously intelligent nutrition advice and also emotional/mental coaching. I love Tara’s feed and I think you will too.
  4. pjfperformance – As I mentioned in the intro, we love when a coach works in one specific sport but their work obviously crosses over to others. Well, enter Paul J. Fabritz. Paul is known for and works primarily with basketball athletes and he is a great player in his own right. This means he is able to combine a deep knowledge of the game with his strong command of sport science and research to provide extremely powerful posts about improving all aspects of human performance relevant to basketball. His feed is a mix of basketball skill acquisition, strength and conditioning drills and breaking down game tape to show how it all relates. This guy is a pro’s pro. If you want to know what it means to be a strength and conditioning PROFESSIONAL watch and better yet listen to how Paul communicates his depth of knowledge. If you can understand angles, leverage, and positioning at his level you will soon find athletes of all types banging down your door for help.
  5. thehpm – Now known as the Human Performance Mechanic, Dr. Nicholas Rolnick, DPT is best known as one of the leading educators on Blood Flow Restriction training (BFR) in the world. His selection as one of the top strength coach accounts may not seem obvious but the science behind BFR is really revolutionizing and reverberating through the research concerning strength training and rehab. For that reason I think the more people who get exposed to BFR the better as it will continue to spur new ideas and questions. What’s great about Dr. Rolnick is that he is not affiliated with any one particular BFR device or system so you can trust that what he is preaching is just what the research is telling him. He does an excellent job of digesting the research and then explaining it in tangible ways (when possible). If you are interested in getting yourself or your clients stronger, than you need to learn what is going on in the BFR world. Much of the what is being learned can actually be applied and inform your programming without a BFR device. As a strength coach, physical therapist, personal trainer or other movement professional you should be able to speak intelligently about BFR even if you don’t use it. Let the Human Performance Mechanic be your teacher.

I hope you enjoyed this article. You should take a moment to follow each of the amazing accounts on our list. We find the very best highlighting different accounts each year. By no means did the people on our prior lists fall off the map. Keep reading on to find our prior top 5’s. Also, if you think someone deserves to be on the list next year let us know in the comments.

We’d also appreciate if you gave us, Movement Guides, a follow as well. We try to post interesting and helpful training content. Check out our online store where you can find our unique pieces of fitness equipment aimed at helping people move better.

Finally, if you like this list you should read who made our 2020 and 2019 top 5

Top 5 of 2020 article can be found here:

Top 5 of 2019 article is here:

Thanks for reading and feel free to share!


Kyle Sela, PT, DPT, OCS, SCS


5 Mobility Drills for Healthy, Happy Shoulders

5 Mobility drills to learn and implement into your day.

Shoulder pain from exercise, recreation, desk work and sports is very common.

Typically the pain you feel is not the result of some traumatic injury or one specific moment, but instead results from an accumulation of improper loads, positions, movements and postures. Thankfully, your shoulders can become pain free and ready to take on any challenge by incorporating a few mobility drills each day, or prior to workouts.

Shoulder health comes down to two main factors; spacing and control. We must move in such a way that appropriate space is given to the structures operating the ball and shoulder joint and have control of the shoulder blade to maintain proper position at rest, at work or during exercise. This sounds simple but its not when you throw into the picture what happens to the spacing after you commute to work, sit at desk, stare at your phone and what happens to your control when exercising with heavy loads or high levels of fatigue. 

These five drills are meant to both counteract the effects of modern life on your posture and tissue mobility and prepare you for any job duties, or workouts that require significant upper body work. If you need a little more help from a mobility tool, we here at Movement Guides designed, manufacture and sell the T-Dot Mobility System. The T-Dot is easily hung in your gym, home or office and can provide you with much needed relief in a couple of minutes. Learn more about the system here.

These movements do not take too much time and if done correctly can help resolve current shoulder issues and definitely help you prevent future one.


No Gym? No Problem! Keep your Gains with Blood Flow Restriction Training

Have you tried BFR Training yet?

Blood Flow Restriction (BFR) Training is an incredible way to maintain and build muscle while using very light resistance. It’s something that I use in clinic everyday with a wide variety of my physical therapy patients and strength training clients. At times like this where going to the gym is likely not allowed, it should be known that there is a way to maintain and build muscle mass when access to heavy weights and your favorite equipment may not be available.

When do I use it with people? Blood flow restriction training is a great option anytime I wan’t someone to build muscle and strength, but for some reason I do not or cannot load them with heavy weights. In fact, it’s probably the best option.

At this point, it’s use is supported by countless research studies in both the medical and strength and conditioning fields. BFR is shown to be incredibly safe for people of all ages so long as they don’t have contraindications.

In short, BFR creates a training stimulus that is similar to heavy resistance training…without the heavy resistance. This comes from a number of factors both on the limb or limbs that are being restricted and systemically by altering hormone levels (stimulates growth hormone release).

How do you use it and why does it work?

So how does it work? It’s pretty simple. You create enough pressure around the working limb to partially limit blood flow to the working muscles but more importantly the pressure prevents your veins from returning blood to the system. This creates a backlog of metabolites from your working muscles and meanwhile the working muscles and tissues get swollen. Upon release the metabolites reach the pituitary gland and this triggers a hormonal response leading to muscle growth.

How do you use it? You can use it with simple exercises like a biceps curl or leg extension. You can use it during more complex movements like squats or rowing. And you can even use it during cardio events like hiking, biking or swimming. Yes, there is research that shows using BFR during “cardio” type activities can build muscle.

Is this cheating? No. It’s manipulating your body to create a response. This is no different than manipulating other types of exercise parameters. Think about it. You can change how many times per week you train, for how long, how intense, how much resistance you use, etc. With blood flow restriction training you are just controlling another variable. And, its not easy! If makes a fairly easy exercise feel very challenging.

Which BFR system should I get for home?

For home use we recommend B Strong BFR Bands. Their bands are designed very intelligently with safety measures in place and have great customer support and guidance. These are great pieces of exercise equipment to pick up while you are stuck at home away from the gym.

Learn more here:

If you decide to purchase you can use our code “TRAINWITHKYLE” at checkout to save some money.

Go to B Strong Website

If you like this article please share it through your favorite social media platforms and check out other articles at the Movement Guides Blog.


5 Fitness Tools to Checkout during the COVID-19 Shut Down

4 of the 5 tools listed in article

We all need to do our part to flatten the curve during the COVID-19 outbreak. Severely limiting human contact with those you do not live with is a very effective way of slowing the spread of this disease. Unfortunately, that includes staying away from the gym and fitness community. However, having to stay home to workout and train gives us all an opportunity to try new things, get creative and maybe even buy some new exercise equipment. There are a lot of options but I want to highlight 5 fitness tools to have at home during the COVID-19 shutdown.

  • B Strong Bands for BFR: BFR stands for Blood Flow Restriction training. Yes, you heard that right. BFR is a HIGHLY effective way to turn your bodyweight movements into a stimulus that will actually make you stronger. Study after study is demonstrating how training with BFR bands creates a stimulus to your muscles and endocrine system that is on par with lifting heavy weights. The concept has been in use for decades and has really taken off in the US in the past 10 years. You can read about the science of BFR here but essentially the bands limit how much blood is being delivered to working muscles while also stopping the return of blood from the working limb(s). This results in more muscles being recruited to perform easy tasks and that creates more byproducts of exercise like lactic acid. When these byproducts interact with the endocrine system there is a hormonal reaction that leads to muscle growth. This reaction happens when we lift heavy weight, and at a time when we can’t go to the gym to lift heavy weight this is a great option to keep and even build muscle. Instead of buying a ton of weights to have around the house, consider buying BFR bands. You’ll see a lot of cheaper options out there but we recommend B Strong bands for their design, safety, effectiveness and portability. Research and purchase your B Strong Bands here and use the code MOVEMENTGUIDES to save some cash on your purchase.
  • Tonal: This is the smartest home gym system that I’ve ever come across. Tonal is basically a cable machine with 2 arms that can change height and angle to allow for just about any movement to be performed. It hangs on your wall and looks more like a computer screen than an exercise program. Its sleek, black and has a large monitor that lets you follow along with your favorite coach or class as you do your resistance training. But, that is not what’s exciting about the tool. The rad part is that the resistance is electromagnetic. Correct, that means there are NO actual weights being moved. It’s all digital and can provide up to 200 pounds of resistance. Cooler yet, it has “smart” settings that can add extra load on the eccentric portion of the movement, spot you (lower the resistance) in the middle of a rep that you start to struggle with and track your progress and performance. You don’t have to decide what weight to use, it will do it for you per your performance. You’ve got to watch their videos to get a true sense of how the system works. It’s not cheap but it’s not outrageous either. You can get it at about the same price point as a Peloton bike. Check out Tonal Here
  • TRX Suspension Straps: Unless you’ve been self quarantining yourself for the last 20 years you’ve probably seen suspension strap training systems. The OG of this phenomenon is the TRX Suspension Trainer and it is still the best system out there. Why? Well, it’s got the best designed handles, attachments and length adjustments.. It was also designed by a Navy SEAL and he has had to spend a fortune to defend his idea against copycats. Why should you have a suspension training system? When you think about training primarily with body weight as your resistance but without any type of tool you’ll soon discover that it can be hard to find a way to work on upper body pulling strength. The floor does not really give you any way to grab and pull. When I treat or train people who use Yoga as their primary source of fitness I usually find that they lack upper back and pulling strength compared to their pressing strength for this reason. This is why I highly recommend a suspension training system like TRX straps for any home gym.
  • 3 in 1 Foam Plyo Box: You need something to step on, jump on, fly off, lay on, put your feet on, place your hands, rest your shoulders on and be adjustable in height….oh, and that thing should be heavy, sturdy, but also soft for safety. What is that thing? It’s a 3 in 1 Heavy Foam Plyo Box from Titan Fitness. We bought one of these a couple of years ago but that model was too light so when we jump on it it tends to want to roll over. No bueno. This model is heavy and sturdy which makes it incredibly safe. There are so many exercises that become available when you have a plyo box and the 3 heights in 1 box makes it a very affordable and efficient piece for home. The good news is Titan Fitness often has the best prices in the game.
  • T-Dot Mobility System: Yes, I’m going to plug our own soft tissue treatment system. It’s called the T-Dot and the tool is designed to allow you to treat your own muscle aches and pains more effectively than ever before from home.  Since you probably are not going to visit your massage therapist anytime soon, you might as well take what you’d spend on a couple of treatments and invest it in something that can give you relief at home for years to come. The T-Dot allows you to target the massaging head on any spot on your body, at any height, at any angle, with any amount of force, with or without movement. You do not need to lie on the floor and the tool will never slip out of place. You can stand up, lean in and move your head, arm or leg to really get after those painful spots you’ve been developing while watching the zombie apocalypse take hold on your cell phone.  Psoas pain? Get on it. Shoulders slouching forward? Improve your position. You know that horribly painful spot above your shoulder blade? Give it some love with the T-Dot Mobility System. Order your T-Dot here and save 20% off your entire order with coupon code “trainathome”.

There you have it friends, 5 tools that can take your home fitness program to another level. Please take a few minutes to check out each tool and let us know what you think. If you have any questions leave a comment and please share this article if you enjoyed it.

Stay safe, be well and keep moving.

Kyle Sela

Co-Founder, Movement Guides, Inc.

Move. Like. This.