Monday Rehab: Stop the hour long plank holds…..do this instead!

We’re keeping it simple on this Monday Rehab edition.  Bottom line, planks are awesome, but why on earth is everyone trying to hold it for a million hours?  Ok, I will admit that as a trainer, the plank has long been a wonderful torture device.  But let’s be real, holding it for longs periods of time has no functional translation into life.  Our bodies constantly move and adapt to changing environments, at no point are we bracing our core for minutes at a time in a position that frankly promotes bad posture (I’m just going to say it, plank is notorious for bad form and a misunderstanding of how to engage the body).

What’s the solution?  Use the plank as a tool to also engage your glutes, rotate, promote shoulder stability and ask the body to adapt!

I put together a selection of my favorite variations for you today, try completing this sequence holding each position for no longer than 20-30 seconds.

  • Standard Plank
  • Side Plank with Leg Lift
  • Pushup Plank
  • Side Plank with Leg Lift
  • Standard Plank focusing on pulling the elbows to your center
  • Slow motion Mountain Climbers
  • Side Plank with Torso Rotation
  • Plank with Frog Legs
  • Side Plank with Torso Rotation

Here are some keys to a plank that would make Tom Cruise jump on Oprah’s couch!

  • Alignment is everything, I like having my shoulders slightly in front of my elbows and the spine extending out parallel to the ground from there
  • Neutral spine, that means your lumbar spine is in the middle point between an anterior pelvic tilt and a posterior
  • Squeeze your glutes
  • Feel your elbows pulling to your center, and your chest extending out in front of you
  • Never compromise form for time, if your form starts to suck, starting singing “nananana, nananana, hey hey hey, goodbye”
  • Remember that if you are working out correctly with proper muscle engagement, there is no need to spend 10 minutes destroying your abs at the end of a workout.  I’m not saying skip the planks or extra core work, but remember that you do need those muscles the rest of the day and exhausting them to the point of dysfunction may lead to other issues.  Listen to your body, it knows best!

-S

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