The plank exercise as we know it has become a staple in most programs, especially for beginners, but the big question is, should the plank exercise only be for beginners, and my answer is always NO!!
The plank is a great exercise to teach people to brace their core. Call it what you want but holding your abs tight is crucial for all the big exercises such as chins, deads, squats, bench, military press. So being able to hold them tight in a plank position is always a good place to learn. However most people will disregard the plank once they can do maybe 60 seconds or they think that doing a plank is too easy so they need to move onto something more challenging, when in fact the plank was sufficient enough for their needs.
First thing to briefly chat about is how to do a standard plank?
- Elbows tucked under your shoulders
- Hips up, not sagging
- Dont just think stomach here, think everything
- Imagine someone is about to kick you in the stomach, what do you do?
- Squeeze everything, you should be solid as a rock
- Dont relax throughout the set
- Head in a neutral position
- Controlled breathing
Remember the plank is not just for beginners, here at S&P we do planks all the time ranging from simple ones for the beginners to advanced versions when they are needed. We always aim to hold the position for 60 seconds, unless a more specific reason is required. Below are a few advanced variations we use.
Basic Plank with Band – Attach a band to a solid object and then place around the body. You can attach the band from either side and different areas of the body. A great new challenge to the standard plank!
Single Leg Plank vs Band – Same as above except now just raise one leg, 30 seconds each side is good. Keep an eye on the hip dropping during this exercise
Straight Arm Plank vs Band – This is great for shoulder stability as well as core control
Straight Arm Single Leg Plank vs Band
Swiss Ball Plank vs Band – This just creates a more unstable surface to support yourself on, so tightness is crucial here for strong stability
Leg Swiss Ball Plank vs Band – Same as above except now in reverse, this makes you really focus on your glutes to keep stability
Straight Arm Leg Swiss Ball Plank vs Band
Straight Arm Single Leg Swiss Ball Plank vs Band - A very challenging plank variation
If you take anything from this, remember the plank is NOT just for beginners, try some of the above variations and see how stable you are. Sometimes you ahve to think outside the box.
Let me know how you get on or if you have some other examples then let me know
Until Next Time
Lift Big Get Strong