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How to properly execute planking exercises

planking

Planking is a well-known exercise. It is one of the most popular exercises for developing core strength and stability.

While planking really targets the abdominals and shoulder stability, you will find that plank is an excellent way to get a full body challenge. In order to do plank properly there must be integration of all the core stabilization muscles. The arms, glutes, and legs are active as well.

Planks can look like the up part of a regular push up. But, in most cases, a regular push up entails much more strain in the upper body…especially in the shoulders and neck, than plank in Pilates or yoga.

You may want to begin with a regressed version of plank and work up to the full version, especially if you are weak in the upper body or have neck strain issues.

You will know you’re doing plank well when you have good form, feel your center working, and have good shoulder stabilization yet are not incredibly rigid.

Now a fact you need to respect…I see many videos try this and that, but they never address your ability to hold the posture. That, or they recommend to hold it for 30 seconds. That 30 second hold recommendation is just plain (SWAG) STUPID WAD A– GUESS!!!

I am disappointed with these top educators coaches who recommend poor postural and structural positions. Remember, a plank is a plank. No arms forward, no pelvic tilts. If you lose the position, you switch on more superficial global muscles. Planks work the local system.

So, here’s how exercises trickle into our industry.

The Core Muscle Strength and Stability Test was only intended to measure ones ability to stay neutral. Let’s read on…stay with me…

There are many exercises available for developing strong abs and building core strength, but few methods offered for evaluating that strength. The Core Muscle Strength and Stability Test is a way to determine your current core strength and gauge your progress over time.

The objective of the test is to monitor the development and improvements of an athlete’s core strength and endurance over time. To prepare for the assessment, you will need:

– A Flat surface
– A Mat
– A watch or clock with second counter

Conducting the Test:

1. Position the watch or clock where you can easily see it
2. Start in the Plank Exercise Position (elbows on the ground) Hold for 60 seconds
3. Lift your right arm off the ground Hold for 15 seconds
4. Return your right arm to the ground and lift the left arm off the ground Hold for 15 seconds
5. Return your left arm to the ground and lift the right leg off the ground Hold for 15 seconds
6. Return your right leg to the ground and lift the left leg off the ground Hold for 15 seconds
7. Lift your left leg and right arm off the ground Hold for 15 seconds
8. Return you left leg and right arm to the ground
9. Lift your right leg and left arm off the ground Hold for 15 seconds
10. Return to the Plank Exercise Position (elbows on the ground) Hold this position for 30 seconds

Results:

Good Core Strength – If you can complete the test fully, you have good core strength.

Poor Core Strength- If you can not complete the test fully, your core strength needs improvement. Poor core strength results in unnecessary torso movement and swaying during all other athletic movements. This results in wasted energy and poor bio-mechanics. Good core strength indicates that the athlete can move with high efficiency.

If you are unable to complete the test practice the routine three or four times each week until you improve. By comparing your results over time, you will note improvements or declines in core strength.

Now, in walks the coach who administers or sees, or reads about the test. They automatically make their athlete/client go in the position and hold and time the move. The “victim” is shaking, his head is forward, the butt hit the ceiling, they clasp hands like they are praying…yeah hold that? We need to first show the position against a wall. The elbows are directly under the shoulder region, hands are karate chop position at the same distance as your shoulders.

If you lay beside the client their ear lobe, shoulder (center) hip, knee, ankle are a perkiest straight line. Now, we ask the most important question…”where do you feel that”?

Seven out of 10 say low back and shoulder area. If this is the case, then…GET OUT ABORT! The message here is simple. Once they can say “all belt line” no low back…not until then do we progress…i.e.: hip abduct, hip extension, marching opposite arm and leg…etc…

Never change the foundation of a plank…I did not say environment..I said foundation…never arms forward, or together. You can walk your feet in, but never elbows.

NEVER PELVIC TILT- that’s a joke, core activation at the level of the TVA and inter-segmental stabilizers activate in a neutral posture. You tilt you shut of core and engage superficial. I’m not sure why the educators we all respect have not a clue when they are out of the text books.

Never time a plank. Instead, ask yourself, how long can I maintain this perfect plank position without deviating neutral posture?

Dave Parise CPT MES FPTA