Unless you are totally new to fitness, you’ve mastered the plank and probably many variations of it. (And there certainly isn’t a shortage of variations!) From single arm balancing and legs extending into arabesque to side planks that include twists and hip drops, planking is more than core training; it’s become somewhat of an art form.
Now, while I like balancing on one arm and one leg as much as the next gal, all that fancy stuff isn’t necessary to challenge yourself. With a few subtle shifts, you can intensify your plank without worrying you’ll take someone out if you tumble down from one of those beautiful, but rather complicated, positions.
The Long-Lever Posterior-Tilt Plank (LLPTP) amps up the traditional plank with just a shift of the elbows and a tuck of the glutes. Specifically, elbows are positioned closer together and in line with the nose while the pelvis is tilted down by engaging the glutes.
How does this make the plank more challenging exactly? In a recent article featured in the Strength & Conditioning Journal, researchers Brad Schoenfeld and Bret Contreras explain: “The longer lever length and narrower base of support associated with the LLPTP makes the exercise less stable as decreased stability has been shown to significantly increase core muscle activity during performance of various core exercises.”
As for the posterior pelvic tilt, the researchers assert that this slight adjustment increases muscle activation throughout the core, including the “lower rectus abdominis, upper rectus abdominis, external oblique, erector spinae, and multifidus musculature.”
Get It Right
1. Get in a traditional prone plank position with your elbows 6 inches apart and in line with your nose. To increase the challenge, walk them out even farther.
2. Make sure your torso and legs form a straight line.
3. Contract your glutes hard and think of moving your pubic bone toward your belly button.
4. As with a traditional plank, don’t allow the hips to drop or raise up out of alignment.
5. Begin with 3 sets of 10- to 30-second holds. Increase duration and sets for additional challenge.
Push Toward Your Best
If you aspire to transform your body, going through the motions just doesn’t cut it. Our bodies easily adapt and progress slows (sometimes to a halt). You have to break out of your routine and continually challenge your body. This could mean increasing weight or reps, changing exercises or training methods and/or just bringing more intensity to your sessions. Not only will this enable you to make more progress faster, you will have fun with the challenge. So, don’t accept good enough when you want your best.
Keep pushing— your best is waiting.
Brad J. Schoenfeld and Bret M. Contreras. (2013). The Long-Lever Posterior-Tilt Plank. Strength & Conditioning Journal. doi:10.1519/SSC.0b013e31828226d5