Article by: Eric Heger, PurLife Personal Trainer NASM-CPT
“The purpose of training is to tighten up the slack, coughing the body, and positive spirit.” – Morihei Ueshiba
Back for more? Having graduated from Part 1 of “The Single Greatest Core Exercise,” you then experienced the sweat-inducing variations of Part 2. It’s time to turn up the intensity master the final touches of this core trilogy.
The plank is still the cornerstone of Part 3, but now we will be focusing primarily on straight arm planks. These variations build more strength in the shoulders, arms, and core. The same rules apply –no fancy equipment necessary. All that is needed is you, the floor, and your determination to succeed in getting stronger.
Plank Variations Part 3
1. Plank Jumping Jacks
This is a combination of plyometrics and core training. Assume a straight arm plank. Start with your feet together and then hop both legs out to the side. You will be going between “feet together” and “feet apart” positions for the duration of the exercise. Time the routine, and gradually increase duration.
*Trainer Tip – Make sure you do not rush. The goal is to have a consistent rhythm of jumping back in and out.
Jumping Jack 1
Jumping Jack 2
2. Straight Arm “Reaching” Plank
Starting in a straight arm plank, slowly reach one arm straight out in front of you without losing spine or cervical position. It is important to always maintain neutral spine during a plank.
* Trainer Tip – Similar to the shoulder taps in Part 2, there should be little to no shifting in the hips. As your client advances in routine, go from a wide foot base to a narrow one.
Arm Reach 1
Arm Reach 2
3. “Diamond” Straight Arm Plank
Instead of placing your hands below the shoulders, you will form a diamond shape with them directly below your sternum. In addition to core training, this plank really challenges your arms and shoulders.
*Trainer Tip – If it is too difficult for you to maintain proper form in this prone position, try using a bench or an elevated surface, placing less stress on arms and shoulders.
Jacked up on Planks!
You made it to the end of Part 3 and now it’s time to really push yourself and see what your core is made of. As you may recall from my previous articles, the stability that core work adds to your body should be very apparent by now, and safety should always be your first priority before, after, and during each exercise. Hopefully by now the basic form plank should be a piece of cake for you. Do not attempt to be a hero and “show off” in front of others, or push yourself too quickly. Only do what you feel your body is capable of, as these three variations can be difficult even for experienced gym goers. Ensure proper form throughout all movements and you will live to see another day and walk the plank again.
Eric D. Heger
NASM-CPT, TRX-FTC, FMS