Hi guys,  Kris from Custom Fitness here, your personal trainer in Amarillo. Today I am showing you three variations on the plank to help eliminate boredom.  People who want to build their core strength immediately start with the plank. Your core refers to anything between your ribs and hips all the way around. The plank will definitely challenge that area, but once you are able to hold it for more than 2 minutes, you need to change it up. I’ll show you what’s beyond the basic plank today.  If you have questions about today’s blog or would like more tailored advice for your workout routine, give us a call: 806-322-3188.

I have recruited one of our personal trainers in Amarillo here, Jesse. He will be demonstrating the form for me while I walk you through what he’s doing. First I’ll ask him to get into a basic high plank on his hands and toes. If you’d like to modify this, you can drop down onto your knees at any point. What he’s going to do is pretend, without actually moving, to squish his hands and feet towards each other; allowing the muscles throughout the core to engage.  Make sure the back is flat and the lower back is not sagging towards the floor. Check that your shoulders are not pinching back, nor are they rounding as though you are pushing away the floor.

If you were to modify the basic plank with knees on the floor, you don’t want to be in a boxed position. Instead, lean forward so your knees, hips, and shoulders are all in one smooth line instead of at right angles to one another.  Confirm that your back isn’t sagging, shoulders are not rounded, and that your core is engaged and tight. When I say engaging the core, I want you to try and create the feeling you get when you are coughing or sneezing; pulling the ribs into the hips.

Now we’ll show you the variations on a slick surface. Tile, laminate or wood floors are the best. If you are on a carpeted surface, that’s fine too just try and guide your foot on the paper plate to where it needs to be. If you have a smooth floor, but not smooth enough for socks to slide on you can use dishtowels to reduce the friction.  We are the studio on the cork floor, so Jesse will show you using his socks.

Plank Variation #1:

Our first variation of the high plank is not accommodating to modifications. If you are not quite here yet, try and build your strength for the full plank before moving onwards with these variations.  Beginning in the high plank, you will balance your upper body while your legs do a snow angel. Open and close the feet by sliding your toes along the floor. Then a hip extension by lifting one leg backwards up to the sky.  Put it all together it looks like: high plank, open the feet, extend left leg, bring left leg down, close the feet, open the feet extend right leg, bring right leg down, close the feet, and repeat.

This variation provides a workout to your outer and inner hips as well as your posterior chain muscles including the lower back and glutes. Using the snow angel and leg extension makes your body multi-task!  Your brain needed a challenge, right?  Be careful that when you are sliding your legs open and close that your heels are not popping out or inward. You want your feet to be moving in tandem perpendicular to the floor.

Plank Variation #2:

For this one we will be using the discs on our hands. Anytime you use a disc on the hands or feet, you need to have a brake of some sort so you don’t end up face planting when you shift your weight. Jesse is going to place his the upper part of his palm and fingers on the disc (or in this case, dish towel) and the heel of his hand will be his brake.

Begin in a strong high plank. Keep your weight balanced on only one of your hands. Slide the hand without the weight forward as far as it will go and then bring it back in. Then repeat on the opposite side.   While you are moving you are still maintaining the proper form. Hips are level, shoulders are not rounded, abs are lifted, and the back is flat. If your hips drop, you are pushing your hand too far. Continue alternating between your arms.

Jesse has an extra challenge he is working against: his socks. To keep his balance he is having to engage his core even more. You can take this variation to the next level by doing it in your socks as well, but only if you promise to keep from falling onto your face.

Plank Variation #3:

This one involves ZERO sliding.  It is called a three position plank and requires a bit of strength. Depending on how comfortable you are with your wrists and/or knuckles, you may need some extra padding like a towel or pilates mat under you. Jesse will begin, yet again, in a strong high plank. The first position you will move from the hands onto the knuckles, one side at a time, and then back down onto the hands.  Then from the hands, lower down onto the forearms, and back up to the hands. Your goal for this is to rotate as little as possible through the torso. You are trying to maintain a flat, engaged core instead of shifting the weight side to side. As you lift up and down try to move by bending the elbow not pressing through the shoulder joint. (Jesse is breathing hard now, so we’ll call that good for today).

Thanks so much Jesse.  Hopefully these three variations will help spice up your plank routine. If you’re interested in livening up your workout and want to see more results by improving your current skill set, that’s what we do. At Custom Fitness, we are a group of personal trainers and fitness professionals at a private, personal training studio here in Amarillo, Texas. We customize everything to meet your needs from exercise to nutrition to lifestyle modification. We will be there with you every step of the way, so let’s get started. Call our team today at 806-322-3188 or e-mail info@customfitness.biz and we’d love to invite you in for a no obligations consultation. At Custom Fitness, we are YOUR personal trainers in Amarillo, Texas. Have a great day!