Upgrade your planks
Every person who has ever glanced at fitness knows what it is. It's used in beginner yoga classes, it's used with mums, dads, children, athletes. Chances are that you've done it at some point in your life.
The humble plank.
According to Healthline.com (the first google result) planks: activate muscles in your entire body, improve your posture, increase flexibility and can even reduce your chance of spinal problems in the future!
While most of this is only slight hyperbole (e.g. Side planks CAN reduce clinical indicators in people with scoliosis) the plank is first and foremost an ab exercise, everything else is a side benefit. That's important to note because you may not be getting the best workout for your abs.
In my opinion, the plank hold is stupid and I hate it. Here's why:
If you tell most people to hop down and do a plank right now, well first of all they'll tell you to get stuffed because they hate planks, but if you promise to acquire the Star Wars licence from Disney and treat it right they will most likely look like this
Dipping in the lower back puts more stress through the posterior trunk muscles, taking tension away from the abs and towards an area that is often already problematic after dealing with your netflix posture every time a new Stranger Things season is released.
Taking away the tension in the abs also means the position needs to be held for a longer time to achieve any results leading to people spending 60 seconds or more lying face down on the ground. No one wants to be there.
If only there was a way to protect our lower back and get a better burn in our abs in less time...
Introducing the HARD PLANK HOLD
I'm going to show you 3 simple cues to transform your normal, boring, basic af planks into ab burning, 6 pack forming, sexy 10 second holds.
The hard plank hold, Also Known As the hard-style plank or Russian Kettlebell Challenge (RKC) plank focuses on creating a large amount of tension to create more muscle activation than hanging limp in a normal plank hold.
3 MAIN CUES
HEELS BACK: Keep pressure back through the heels, they won't get close to touching the ground but they should be pushed down in that direction.
GLUTES ON/TUCK THE HIPS UNDER: The most important cue for creating and keeping the tension. Squeeze your butt and think about tilting your pelvis under your spine. DON'T let the hips drop too close to the ground or stay up too high, it's all about the movement at the pelvis. The pelvis tilt can be a tricky movement to get your head around, check out this video for more information on it
PUFF THE CHEST OUT: Finally, while keeping the eyes down puff the chest out. This is so your upper body doesn't round over your elbows.
Hold this position for 10 seconds, drop a knee to take a little breather then go again. Start with 3 sets of 3 X 10 second holds then slowly build up the time you can hold it for. Remember, if you're not shaking from the tension you've created you're not squeezing hard enough.
Don't just take my word for it, one of the biggest names in the sports science industry Stuart McGill, recently said “There’s no utility to [Holding a plank longer than 10 seconds] other than claiming a record”.
So don't waste your time trying to impress people with how long you spend on the floor, impress them with how quickly you stand up sweaty and out of breath and move on with your life.
More of a visual learner or is this page a TL;DR? Check out my video on this topic: