Have you ever come up with one really fantastic pun and then couldn’t stop punning with it the rest of the day? That’s what just happened. “Plank” offers a lot of options.
If you don’t like puns,
I don’t like you. I will totally non-judgmentally suggest that you DO NOT scroll past the workout at the bottom of this post. You’re welcome.
If you ARE into puns (here’s lookin’ at you, Ma!), I will leave you with a delightfully punny list of plank puns at the end. I also want you to add your own in the comments.
Sidenote: Somewhere in my family (luckily in the maternal line), there exists the last name Boehner. Pronounced as unfortunately as you are hoping it is. My parents, brother, and I devoted waaaay too many hours of our lives to coming up with perfectly terrible first and middle names to pair with it.
(Please do spend the next several hours making your own list. Please do not write these in the comments.)
Moving right along…
I spent this weekend learning all of the intricacies of barefoot training! Naturally, this led to my spending all weekend considering the importance of stability as the basis for movement. This led to my considering the extensive benefits of planks.
Not this kind.
Although these are funny.
Strong Core = Functional Stability
Building core strength should be a key component of every quality training program. The “core” consists of a plethora of muscles; one’s core is effective only if it is able to orchestrate all of these muscles with the cohesion required to perform the task at hand.
Think grace. Finesse. Synergy. Lissomeness. Efficient integration, if you will.
The muscles of the core also support and stabilize the spine. Long story short: when you improve your core strength, you will
- enhance athletic performance
- fend off injury
- enhance ease of daily living activities
- appear more sculpted
If that’s not enough to convince you, consider [for all intents and purposes, the plank inventor] Dr. Stuart McGill’s research which suggests that
a strong core actually allows strength to
“radiate out peripherally to more distant regions of the body.”
In other words, having a well-developed, well-coordinate core will have a positive impact on everything from your sprinting speed to your biceps curl, from your mountain biking to your calf raise. (I use these examples because I’m pretty sure you already know how much your core affects your squat, deadlift, bench press, and kettlebell swing…)
The traditional plank is a fine place to start. However, plank variations are integral if you wish to create a finely-tuned system of musculature. Keep in mind that one of the core’s primary functions is to resist movement/prevent motion.
Subtracting points of contact is a simple way to test stability & force adaptation. Adding movement is another.
The routine below will improve your mobility, increase your stability, develop all of the muscles of your core, and ALSO boost your mind-body connection.
Hands under shoulders, heels pushing back. Everything tight and well-postured. Consciously focus on tensing your abs, even tucking your pelvis for a solid squeeze. When moving or balancing, limit rocking. To modify, widen your stance as needed.
Check out this video for explanations and demonstrations!
Great as a warm-up, as well as a finisher!
30 s standard plank hold
30 s alternating shoulder tap
30 s alternating hip tap
30 s 4-point tap
30 s alternating knee-to-same-side-elbow
30 s alternating knee-to-opposite-side-elbow
finish with a max-length bird-dog extension hold each side
*release for a brief reprieve, sinking back into extended child’s pose, as needed*
And now, what you’ve all been waiting for…or at least what my mom has been waiting for….
Want Stronger Abs? Peas and Plank, You!
Planks for the Variety
No planks, I don’t care about abs.
Planks for adding your own in the comments!
PS – Are you on Pat’s subscriber list? We have pretty cool workouts coming there this week. Join us?