The plank is one of the most underrated exercises for strengthening your abs, buttocks, and back. This isometric exercise is a universal solution for everyone who wants to strengthen their muscles, not only the abdominal muscles, but also the whole body. All advanced plank variations are based on the static loading principle.
It would seem that this is a boring exercise with which you will not get very far. But everything is just the opposite, achieving certain results in this exercise, you have the opportunity to increase the level of difficulty and progress accordingly.
1. Front Plank
Before moving on to advanced plank variations, you need to learn how to technically perform Front Plank correctly. With regular and correct execution, we can achieve a noticeable increase in strength indicators in basic movements. But there is another side of the coin, if we neglect the technique of execution, then we have every chance of getting an injury to the lumbar spine and limiting ourselves from physical activity for an indefinite period.
One of the most important elements of correct technique is a straight back. The most common execution mistake is the “failure” of the lower back. In order to follow the technique of performing the exercise, you can put a gymnastic stick on your back, which, sitting on your back, should have three points of contact: head, upper back, buttocks.
The second element of correct technique is the correct position of the shoulders, which should not be pressed against the ears.
And the final element is head position. We keep our head in line with the spine, as if we were standing on our feet and looking straight ahead.
2. 2-Point Plank
After we have learned the technique of performing this isometric exercise and can easily do Front Plank for about a minute, then it’s time to complicate the process.
One of the ways to increase the difficulty of the plank is to reduce the contact patch, that is, you need to reduce the points of contact with the floor. We tear off one leg or one hand from the floor. As soon as we have reached the level where we can calmly perform this exercise with three points of support, we remove another center of contact: we tear off one arm and one leg from the floor.
3. Swiss Ball Plank
You can find a swiss ball in almost every gym. By adding an unstable surface, we make it much more difficult to hold the plank.
We take the starting position keeping all the rules of the base plank: do not bend the back, do not allow a “failure” in the lower back, keep our head in line with the spine.
If we feel that we can do more, we lift our leg off the floor, thereby further increasing the load.
4. Swiss Ball Knee Tucks
The next version of this static exercise is called the Swiss Ball Knee Tucks. This variation is contrary to the basic principles of the plank, since it is not static, but dynamic.
To perform the Knee Tucks exercise, we take the starting position: we put our feet on the swiss ball, with our hands resting on the floor. Then, on the inhale, we pull the knees to the chest and on the exhale we return to the starting position, move back and forth for 30 seconds.
5. The Blowout
This implementation option is similar to the previous variation, only now we place our hands on a movable support. In the starting position, we rest against the swiss ball with our forearms. Then we slowly begin to push the ball away from ourselves until we feel that the lower back is “falling through”. In this phase, it is necessary to move to the starting position. You need to move the ball approximately 30 cm.
In order to technically correctly perform the reverse bar, place the hands strictly under the shoulders, fingers point towards the heels, pull the socks forward, push the pelvis up, keep the back straight and look at the ceiling. With this performance, the emphasis of the load goes to the calf muscles and gluteal muscles.
7. 3-Point Reverse Plank
If you have successfully mastered the bar back, then it’s time to start making the exercise more difficult. We accept the starting position: the hands are under the deltas, the fingers “look” towards the heels, the socks are pulled forward, the pelvis is pulled up, the back is straight, the gaze is directed to the ceiling. After what has been done, we raise one leg, watch the pelvis and an even back. In this position, we try to hold out for 20-30 seconds. When performing a complicated reverse plank, the load falls on the triceps, glutes, abs and quadriceps.
8. The Table
To do the exercise “The Table”, you must take the starting position of the back plank and bend your legs at a 90 degree angle. We continue to monitor the back and pelvis. The knees should not move apart, the head is on the same plane with the spine. Breathing is deep and even. By doing this exercise, we strengthen our arms, stretch the deltoid muscles, tone the cervical region and load the abdominal muscles.
When doing the plank exercise, most of the work is taken up by the slow muscle fibers (red). They are called red because they have a high content of myoglobin, due to this they have a red tint.
The main advantage of the execution of the bar is that it can be performed almost anywhere, in any conditions.
If you approach the exercise more creatively, then you can come up with several more ways to increase the level of difficulty and instability. Perhaps your variation will be the best and perfect for you.