I tend to involve a lot of planking variations in my clients training programs, and there’s a very simple reason for this. For bang for your buck exercises, I haven’t found one that creates as much of a benefit in a short period of time as a plank. In terms of increasing mobility through the hips, pre-activating the core muscles to help with spinal stabilization, getting people to learn and lock in neutral spinal positioning, and even working on coaching breathing behind a braced core, it tends to do a lot of things when done well.
The big take home point of that opening paragraph: Planks are tha awesome.
The downside is that a lot of people wind up doing planks in a god-awful manner, and do something that more resembles an Instagram fitness “celebrity” showing off their butt for a ready camera.
I’ll be right back, I just need to stop my eyes from bleeding after seeing something like that.
Most planks wind up falling into 3 main categories:
The best way to approach a plank is to think of getting into a linear body position where the head, shoulders, hips and knees are in a straight line. Essentially, what ever would be ideal posture when standing is what ideal posture would be when planking, except, you know, more horizontal.
Here’s a quick tutorial video on how to set up into a fantastic plank.
A good plank should be controlled massive tension through the entire body, where you have the goal of generating maximal muscle force throughout the total system and breathe in a deep and powerful manner. If you can do more than 15 seconds in a plank position, you’re not tensing hard enough. Work HARDER!!!
In a programming means, you should ideally accumulate time in each set through multiple “reps” of 10-15 seconds. An example is 4 sets of 15 seconds, with a 5 second recovery between reps. Smash your hips and core as hard as possible, and breathe deeply and forcefully.