RTS Coaching: How to Plank

Plank

Everyone and their mother knows that the plank is a solid core training exercise.

However, just because it’s a great exercise doesn’t mean that most people are doing it correctly! In fact, my model actually shows one of the most common technique errors I see in the plank, so watching the video should help you fix it.

Just give me 2.5 minutes of your day, and I show you’ll how to coach the plank in a more effective fashion!

After watching the video, it’s obvious that the model (an intern!), simply could not get into the right position.

However, this makes for a great teaching point – not everyone is going to look perfect on Day One!

The posture/position he demonstrates is indicative of someone who is very rectus abdominus (RA) dominant. He wants to crunch, or “shorten,” his core to create stability. This is why you see that very prominent hump in the middle of his back.

Cuing this athlete to “drive the elbows into the ground,” or “reach long through the elbows,” immediately improved the position.

Was it ideal? No. But it was definitely better – and that’s the whole point here.

So a few key points when it comes to the plank:

  • Set-up in a long position, with the elbows underneath the shoulders and up on the toes.
  • Reach long through the elbows, trying to make the point in between the shoulder blades the highest point. The hands should be apart, and palms facing down on the ground.
  • The 3-points of contact should include the back of the head, the upper back, and the buttocks. There should also be a small space in between the lower back and the pipe (to demonstrate a natural lower back curve/lordosis).
  • Make this a quality based movement! It’s annoying hearing about how people hold their planks for hours at a time, when all they’re really doing is crushing their spine as they fall deeper and deeper into extension. Work on holding ideal posture, and terminate the set when posture and position falter.
  • Last but not least, a few cues and thoughts that might help:
    • Tuck the chin slightly.
    • Exhale and tuck the pelvis slightly (“belt buckle up” or “Michael Jackson.”)
    • “Reach long through the elbows” or “push the floor away.”

So there you have it – a short and sweet way to coach the plank. Give this a shot next time you’re in the gym – I bet you (and your clients/athletes) will feel your abs like never before on a plank!

All the best

MR

P.S. – Next Monday, I’m going to release my Complete Core Training DVD’s and manual. If you’re interested in my core training system, make sure to check it out via the link below!

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  1. You said eventually you will get the pvc to head….how? What is going to change over time…the roundness will flatten out?

    • Yes, as we improve and “normalize” his spinal curves, we can often get his alignment to smooth out as well.

      And even if it’s not perfect, even slight changes can lead up to a big impact on their posture, position and performance!

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