Focus On : The Plank

Hey people :) I am serious when I say that my soup recipe is the bomb. I had it again last night-and boy was it delicious!

Focus On : The Plank

Last night I was thinking about this while teaching a BodyPUMP class : in BodyPUMP we do planks in almost every single abdominal track (the 9th track of the class), and you want to know why? It is because it WORKS. The plank is a full-body move that forces the core to completely engage into the deepest area of the abdominals.

This area is known as the transversus abdominus <—midline of the abdominals; compresses abdomen (keeping it ‘all’ in, and gives an overall appearance of being smaller when this muscle group is strong).

Thus the plank allows for a sleeker, stronger, smaller overall appearance. Isn’t that what most people want their midsection to look like?! I thought so 😉

source

The plank is hard. If it is not hard, then you are not doing something right. Seriously.

  • Keep the elbows under the shoulders (or you can do a plank on your hands)
  • Rise onto your toes, feet are just outside of hip-width
  • Pull your abdominals into the spine-keep them locked there
  • Squeeze the glutes
  • Add any hard(er) options such as toe tapping in and out, pulsing back and forth, lifting legs or arms OR make it easier by dropping to the knees

Although the move itself is not difficult to understand (as in it is not a confusing move to explain) technically it is very hard to execute. And I see it done wrong ALL the time.

I was getting ready to do a pushup-- the plank would have the arms close to under the shoulders

Some things I see WRONG with the plank:

  • Not keeping the elbows under the shoulders <—-this will ruin your shoulders! And it hurts! Plus, it takes the work out of the abs and into the upper body
  • Letting the butt go into the air (kind of like a half down dog) <—this takes the work out of the abs and puts it elsewhere (i.e. shoulders, back, legs)
  • Forgetting about bracing the abdominals and letting them drop down <—this puts pressure on the lower spine (and completely defeats the purpose)
  • Not squeezing the buns <—-this just helps to keep everything tight, so if you don’t do it, you’ll feel wobbly!
  • Locking the knees <—dangerous in any sense!
  • Tucking the chin or looking down <—-it is important to keep the spine in alignment at all times

bad plank! (source)

There are a LOT of variations to the plank, so I’ll list a few here (some are names I made up, but are self explanatory. Let me know if you have questions, though!):

  1. Side Plank
  2. Plank with Toe Taps
  3. Plank with Hand Taps
  4. Plank with Leg Lift
  5. Plank with Arm Lift
  6. Side Plank with Rotating Arm
  7. Plank with Rocking Back and Forth
  8. Plank with Knee Drops
  9. Plank on a Bench Top

example of a side plank -source

Try to hold a plank for at least 10-15 seconds. Rest. Repeat. Add in a variety of planks to get the entire abdominal region feelin’ good!

And I am off….to teach another BodyPUMP class. You’d think that was my life or somethin’. HAH.

What is YOUR favorite kind of plank to do?? Any new plank moves YOU’ve done recently to share??

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Comments

  1. My favorite is to do a side plank on my elbow and then drop my hip and raise it back up for 15-20 reps on each side, I definitely feel the burn!

  2. this is one of my favorite Pilates moves! Great description!

  3. I have a bittersweet relationship with planks!! You’re absolutely right though, they are an incredible core exercise and they get me every time.

  4. I love planks! I do them all the time in yoga- but I’m up on my hands instead of arms. Side planks are definitely my favorite.
    I posted this a while ago on my blog, but my trainer has a great little video on YouTube for plank exercises: [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQpiKFD2Sgg]

  5. Don’t you find when you make your own soup it gets better every day? Man, soup weather is here, and I love it!

    I just discovered this plank exercise:

    -Start in a normal plank for 30 seconds
    -Rotate to a rkght side plank for 30 sec
    -Come back to regular plank for 30 sec
    -Rotate to a left side plank for 30 sec
    -Plead for it to end.

  6. the plank and I have a love-hate relationship…I’m just trying to master the art of the original plank…No side stuff, etc etc….It is TOUGH and I shake SO MUCH!

  7. Planks are hard but so SO good ! My favourite is the side plank with rotating arm :)

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