Advanced Plank – The Plank on Steroids
By Rick Morris
The plank and its cousin, the side plank, can be challenging exercises. They are tough, but they are also worth the effort because of the great core strength and distance running benefits you get out of them. As tough as the plank and side plank are, if you do them long enough, they can become stale and your rate of return might decrease. So what do you do to improve your rate of fitness return when you master an exercise? You could do more repetitions of the plank exercise or hold the plank position for longer periods of time. That would certainly make them more challenging and probably give you more fitness benefits, but it will also take up more of your valuable training time. Here is another idea. How about making the plank exercise even more challenging. Do a plank on steroids – the advanced plank.
If you are familiar with my strength training philosophy, you know I prefer body weight exercises that require no equipment. I think they are superior in their ability to strengthen specific running movements are also much more conducive to the distance running life. The advanced bench plank exercises, while they don’t require specialized equipment, do need a bench, high step or low wall. You can find those structures at nearly any track, park or trail. So, I don’t think it will throw a wrench into your distance training.
There are two version of the advanced plank that I like to use, the standard advanced plank and the advanced side plank. The standard advanced plank focuses on the core muscles in your abdominal area and hip, while the advanced side plank concentrates on the lateral core muscles and hip abductor muscles.
- Position yourself on the ground in a prone position with your upper body supported by your hands and your lower body supported by your toes on a bench of between 12 and 16 inches in height.
- Keep your body very straight with your pelvis tucked in so that your hips are pressed forward. Hold for 30 seconds.
- From the basic plank position raise your right arm about 12 inches off the ground and hold for 30 seconds.
- Return your right arm to the basic position then raise your left arm and hold for 30 seconds.
- Return your left arm to the basic position and raise your right leg off the bench. Hold for 30 seconds.
- Return your right leg to the basic position and raise your left leg. Hold for 30 seconds.
- Return your left leg to the basic position. Now raise your left arm and right leg at the same time and hold for 30 seconds.
- Return your left arm and right leg to the basic position. Now raise your right arm and left leg at the same time. Hold for 30 seconds.
Advanced Side Plank
- Lie on your left side with your upper body supported by your left hand and your lower body supported by your left foot on a bench of 12 to 16 inches in height. Your right leg and foot should be stacked on top of your left. Your body should be completely straight and supported off the ground.
- Contract your core muscles to stabilize your body.
- Now raise your right leg laterally away from your body and hold that position for 20 to 30 seconds.
- Repeat on the same side for your desired number of repetitions.
- Switch sides and repeat.