How To Master The Weighted Plank

Dustin Myers

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     If you have been following and incorporating some of my core strength exercises, I am sure that many of you are on your way to a strong, functional core.  I consider the Plank to be the single most effective core exercise, but despite its basic nature and somewhat beginner level reputation, it is a position that most lifters do incorrectly.  The most important thing to remember about a plank position is to keep your abs flexed and do not allow your hips to sag.  If your abdominals relax and hips lower, you are putting your lower back at risk. 

     Once you have mastered a basic front plank, it’s time to work up to a weighted plank.  Keep good position in mind at all times, and follow this 4 week plank progression to build the strength and stability required to perform Weighted Planks.  Incorporate each week’s core routine 3-4 times and then move on to the next week’s routine if you feel that you have mastered the previous week.

 

Week 1

A. Stability Alternates (on knees or Swiss Ball) 12 per side

B. Plank - 1 minute

C. Side Plank - 30 seconds each side

D. Walk Ups - 3 x 12reps

 

     For week #1, begin with Stability Alternates from either your knees or a Swiss Ball, slowly raising one leg and the opposite arm, holding each rep for 2 seconds at the top.  Next, transition into a 1 minute traditional Plank, then hold a side Plank for 30 seconds per side.  Keep your body straight and feet in line with each other.  After each side is complete, go back to a Plank position and "walk up" to a push up poison, then back down to a plank.  Repeat this Walk Up for 3 sets of 12, and don't let your hips get too low or too high.

 

Week 2

A. Stability Alternates (off knees) 12 per side

B. Plank - max time

C. Side Plank - max time each side

D. Walk Ups - max time

 

     On the second week, you will perform the Stability Alternates off of your knees (or Swiss Ball) in a push up position.  For the other 3 movements/positions you will do 1 set of "max time".  Rest 60-90 seconds between positions.

 

Week 3

A. Stability Alternates - 10 per side, 3 second hold at the top of each

B. Plank - 75 seconds (start by lifting 1 leg for 10 seconds then the other for 10 seconds)

C. Side Plank - 30 second holds + 10 Hip Dips per side

D. Walk Ups - 20

E. Warrior Twist - 15 per side

 

     For week #3, you will now be holding the Stability Alternates for a 3 count at the top of each rep.  This week also adds a few twists to the basic Plank positions.  On the front plank, lift one leg off of the ground, alternating sides every 10 seconds.  You should feel your Glute and lower back engage on the side you lift up, but don't allow your hips to twist or elevate from the starting position.  Stay solid!  After the 30 second holds on Side Planks, perform 10 Hip Dips, touching your hip to the floor and then squeezing your oblique to come back up.  Next you will hit a set of 20 Walk Ups then transition into a set of Warrior Twists.  As you rotate your torso, try to get your arms in a straight line from the floor to the ceiling with out turning your hips.  I've found that it helps to think of "pushing down" towards the floor the hip on the same side that the shoulders are rotating up.

 

Week 4

A. 6 minute Plank - front position for first 2 minutes then change to sides whenever needed.

 

     OK…now this is about to get serious.  One of the core workouts I use every week with my athletes at the Ohio Regional Training Center is the 6 minute Plank, and its time for you to give it a shot.  Try to make it to at least the 2 minute mark in the front position, then after that you may switch to side Planks when needed.  Maintain perfect position and do not touch the ground when transitioning from front to side and vice versa.

 

     The week after you complete your first 6 minute plank it's time to attempt the weighted Plank.  Start with one 45lb plate and shoot for 30 second holds and then build up from there.  When using weight its even more crucial to keep your abdominals engaged and your hips at the right height.   My heaviest weighted plank is a 10 second hold with 315lbs of plates, and I have held 5 plates (225lbs) for 1 minute. Remember, I didn't start there…I had to work up to it!  Be patient and only move up in weight once you can hold the position for 30 seconds with ease.

 

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