The plank is an exercise that has lasted the test of time. But recently, I have had a change of heart about this exercise. Since starting at Quest and learning more about the consistency of programming, I realize it is often difficult to intermix exercises that are timed and exercises that use repetitions. Especially when there is a need to time one athlete while spotting another. Don’t get me wrong, I still love all planks and their variations. But, adding a small change that allows you to count repetitions can be worthwhile.
FIrst off, let’s talk about the traditional plank… The main goal of the plank is to maintain a neutral core position and rigid torso, as well as prevent extension (arching) in the spine. By doing so we need to create and maintain stability all the way from the toes through the head. When we lift one leg off the ground into hip extension, we are causing a rotational stress throughout the body. This increases the demand on the core, to not only prevent extension, but rotation as well. Adding to it’s difficulty and also benefits once it is mastered.
How to perform this exercise:
- Set-up in a traditional plank position
- Elbows should be under the shoulders and toes under the ankles
- Raise the hips so they are level with the feet and shoulders
- Once you have a solid plank hold, lift one leg off the ground
- Make sure the knee stays straight with no bend and the body doesn’t rotate
- Lower that leg back down and repeat with the other leg
- Complete for the desired repetitions
Note: Perfecting the traditional plank is the best starting point. Once you can hold this for 30-45 seconds, hip extension can be added. During the exercise, as you raise the leg it is important to make sure the body doesn’t rotate and hip drops.
By: Garrett McLaughlin, MS, ATC, CSCS, ART