If holding the classic plank with perfect technique for 3 minutes is not difficult for you, you can choose from two options of how to raise load:
- increase the time of exercise (for now, the record of holding the plank is more than an hour), but for the majority this option may be inappropriate because of full employment;
- try other variations, in which the load increases by more horizontal body position or decreasing the number of standing points,
If you’ve chosen first – there’s only one requirement: watch the technique, bent knees or back immediately lower the efficiency of the exercise. If you decided to test yourself in power variations of plank – read on.
Leg Pillar Plank
Since the main task of all the muscles involved in plank – to hold the body straight, the more horizontal the body (I mean you), the more the muscle load. Some nations have got other variations of plank, on toes and forehead, but we won’t be so extreme (for now) and will use another way to make the body horizontal – a little lift up the legs. As it got from the introduction, the pillar’s height should be enough for your body to be horizontal from heels to back of your head at the starting position (about 20 cm)
What muscles work: rectus and oblique abdominals, big buttock muscle, quadriceps.
Performing the exercise: in the emphasis lying, leaning on pre-shoulders, put your legs on prepared pillar (the distance to the pillar should be so that your arms from elbow to the shoulder were perpendicular to the floor). Using abdominals and legs straighten your body and fix it in horizontal position (photo).
Notice: since this is one of the most difficult variations of plank, you should be prepared enough to perform it (the time of performing the classic plank – at least 5 minutes), or the excessive muscle tension will lead to worsened technique. If the pillar is not quite stable – lean it on the wall or some other static object. As in other variations of plank, do not let your back or pelvis bend. Watch your knees not to bend, by using buttock and hip muscles keep them straight. Try not to hold breath, breathe calmly. Don’t tense the neck muscles (look down) at the same time avoid the seduction to put your head on arms. Raise the performance to 3 minutes.
To complicate this kind of exercise you can try to put your legs on an unstable pillar – for example, ball or equalizer.
If you can perform this kind of plank with proper technique for required time – you can raise the time of the exercise or move on to the next level, performing the three-point or two-point plank.
Good books to read:
Bret Contreras. Bodyweight Strength Training Anatomy – Human Kinetics, 2013 – 224 p.
Kavadlo Al. Pushing the Limits: Total Body Strenght with No Equipment – Dragon Door Publications, 2013 – 224 p.
BJ Gaddour. Your Body Is Your Barbell: No Gym. Just Gravity. Build a Leaner, Stronger, More Muscular You in 28 Days – Rodale, 2014 – 288 p.