Today’s workout involves a fair amount of time in static holds – which are most often labeled planks. The term plank stems from the gymnastics holds which are often known as the planche. Regardless, the basic term for plank is well known because we always see fitness classes and team workouts that involve long static holds in a low push up position. The trouble is that most people who prescribe planks don’t know how to or can’t do them properly themselves. Every week I see teams outside in a grassy field doing a 2 minute plank when their hips are just about kissing the ground, with terrible shoulder positioning and a bunch of jiggering athletes.
We in my opinion, planks should only be done with perfect form, and only done for short duration, such as 10-15 seconds and repeated with short rests in between. Generally I will prescribe anywhere from 10 to 30 reps of 10 seconds with 5-10 second rests between sets.
Now, the athletes can be tested with longer holds, so long as they have good form and can effectively hold the movement, however I don’t see that too often.
The other thing about the plank is that it is extremely boring when prescribed in the traditional manner so may I suggest a plank series where the athlete completes a rep of the plank, then moves into a static stretch for 5 seconds, then back to a other plank, and into a stretch where the plank and stretches are different over a 5-10 minute period.
Most of my athletes do this and never complain that it is boring, and the great thing is that they manage to compete about 10-15 stretches and plank positions in the series. The common thread among my athletes is that doing the plank series is much more enjoyable, yet they still find themselves in a sweat and suddenly realize that 10 minutes has passed.
10 minutes plank series as 10 second hold/10 second stretch
5 minutes run technique
3 x 200m run at 60-70-80%
Complete 6 x 200m sprint with 1:00 rest between sets
Finish with: 10 sets of 5 each