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I fail at "the plank", any tips? watch

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    Hi, I recently started going to the gym about 4 times a week. I normallly do a cardio warm up and then a mix of various free weight and weight machine exercises (normally do some legs and arms), plus ab crunches and some hip extensions with a big squishy ball.

    However, there is one exercise that eludes me..."the plank". I can do it for max 30 seconds, and I tried to do it today after a workout and couldn't even get off the ground!

    Is there something I'm doing wrong, like a common mistake that I might be making? I realise that this is hard to answer without actually seeing my technique but are there things that people normally get wrong on this one that I could potentially eliminate (e.g. like how people deadlifting move their shoulders etc)? I hate failing.
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    (Original post by Becca)
    Hi,
    It uses a lot of energy so I would advise not doing it after a workout. Also, you're not meant to be able to hold it for that long anyway, the most I've seen is like eight minutes with ok technique. What part of your body starts hurting the most first?
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    Your abs are just like any other muscle in your body and so need atleast a days rest in between working them. So give them a rest and then get back on it. Don't overwork them either. Once you've let them recover, you will be able to do 30 seconds and keep improving that as the weeks go by (30 seconds is about the right length to do the plank anyway).
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    (Original post by Clarity Incognito)
    It uses a lot of energy so I would advise not doing it after a workout. Also, you're not meant to be able to hold it for that long anyway, the most I've seen is like eight minutes with ok technique. What part of your body starts hurting the most first?
    Well, today it was my arms! But these replies make me feel a little better. Maybe I should only do the plank on days when I don't work my abs?
    Hmm think I need to plan my schedule a bit better maybe. :beard:
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    (Original post by Becca)
    Well, today it was my arms! But these replies make me feel a little better. Maybe I should only do the plank on days when I don't work my abs?
    Hmm think I need to plan my schedule a bit better maybe. :beard:
    No, do it when you work your abs. But have days off in between. Whats your routine like atm? Can sort something around that probably.
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    Bear in mind that while you're stabilizing using your abs, you're actually supporting yourself on your arms. I find that when I do the plank, it's actually my arms that hurt first. So if you've had a heavy day on your arms, consider doing an alternative exercise.
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    The plank isn't actually an abs workout per se. It is a core workout meaning it not only works out the abs but all the muscles in the torso area. Your ABS could be really strong but your CORE muscles could be very weak in comparison, making the plank harder than sit ups or crunches. The core muscles are really usefull for cycling and running helping you keep your posture or supporting you on the bicycle. I believe it can also help avoid back problems (by keeping it supported). This doesn't mean to say that the plank doesn't give you great looking abs, it does.
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    Try doing it with your knees on the floor first, instead of your feet. Like how girly press-ups are done :p: I go to pilates every week and when I first started I could only hold it for about 30 seconds like that, but you build it up gradually and now I can do two minutes in proper plank position I'm still fat though xD
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    (Original post by Not Your Usual)
    No, do it when you work your abs. But have days off in between. Whats your routine like atm? Can sort something around that probably.
    See, that's my problem atm. I got a free personal trainer session when I joined the gym and she gave me an full body weights routine, but after 2 weeks of doing the same exercises I felt I needed some variety so I added in extras.

    The basic routine the trainer gave me was:

    Bench press machine (I've swapped this for actual bench press now)
    Lats pull down
    Leg press machine
    Bulgarian squats (I think they're lunges, but bear in mind I'm in Norway and this is what the Norwegian trainer called them)
    Crunches
    Hip extention
    Plank

    I've added in (kind of when I feel like it, no order to them really, which might be where the problem lies):
    Bicep curls
    Deadlift (on a machine because I'm too weak to do it with free weights atm, want to work up to freeweights)
    Rear flies
    Shoulder press with dumbells
    Row thingy, dunno what it's called, but on the machine.

    I like doing all these exercises but I lack the knowledge to form them into a well-ordered routine. Can anyone here suggest a good routine that incorporates all these exercises?

    I guess today I found the plank solid cos I just did a class which did a full body strength session, including bicep curls. tricep dips and flies?

    (Original post by loonyplatypus)
    Try doing it with your knees on the floor first, instead of your feet. Like how girly press-ups are done I go to pilates every week and when I first started I could only hold it for about 30 seconds like that, but you build it up gradually and now I can do two minutes in proper plank position I'm still fat though xD
    I've just started pilates! We don't do the traditional plank in it at the mo, but we do push up thingies, and I suck at those too :p: But I really want to keep going so I can stick my leg really high up in the air and balance like the instructor! It's great that you can actually see improvement in pilates, plus it's so energising!
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    @ Becca

    Bulgarian split squats are these:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kx-R70au0Ws
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    (Original post by Shawshank)
    @ Becca

    Bulgarian split squats are these:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kx-R70au0Ws
    Yeah it's those :cool:

    I don't do it with weights though
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    (Original post by Becca)
    Is there something I'm doing wrong, like a common mistake that I might be making? I realise that this is hard to answer without actually seeing my technique but are there things that people normally get wrong on this one that I could potentially eliminate (e.g. like how people deadlifting move their shoulders etc)? I hate failing.
    Hi.

    Bascialy, it's about progression. Every things about progression, simple because we want our muscles, soft tissues etc to adapt to the load and become more developed as such. I.E. Barbell or Wheel Roll outs are tremendous anti-extension core exercises, but that doesn't mean everybody should do them. Simply because it demands alot of tissue (eccentric) loading or in other words it's too advanced for most people. But all they need to do is work up to that progression with progressive exercises.

    Many females that have trouble with doing abs planks also have trouble performing push- ups. This is because both exercises are very closely related.

    You got 30 seconds doing the plank, which is reasonably okay so I say make sure your technique is spot on and stick with it. Allow yourself some recovery time and try do it another time for longer - Once your ability at that exericse is decent enough, progress it and make it harder.

    With progression in regards to the plank, it's mostly arm positions / levers. The larger the lever, the greater the difficulty in essence.

    If you feel you can't manage the traditional straight leg plank, start with Kneeling Elbow Planks and work up to doing 2 sets of 1min holds. Then step it back up to the traditional elbow plank for the same volume.

    Furthermore, others would include single leg lifts, elevating the feet or upper body, push up planks and then with added elevation etc etc... to where you reach a stage that your able to start incorporating added stability work with swiss ball etc.

    Remember, practice makes perfect.
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    (Original post by loonyplatypus)
    Try doing it with your knees on the floor first, instead of your feet. Like how girly press-ups are done :p: I go to pilates every week and when I first started I could only hold it for about 30 seconds like that, but you build it up gradually and now I can do two minutes in proper plank position I'm still fat though xD
    Probably because doing the plank is useless for losing fat.
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    (Original post by Becca)
    See, that's my problem atm. I got a free personal trainer session when I joined the gym and she gave me an full body weights routine, but after 2 weeks of doing the same exercises I felt I needed some variety so I added in extras.

    The basic routine the trainer gave me was:

    Bench press machine (I've swapped this for actual bench press now)
    Lats pull down
    Leg press machine
    Bulgarian squats (I think they're lunges, but bear in mind I'm in Norway and this is what the Norwegian trainer called them)
    Crunches
    Hip extention
    Plank

    I've added in (kind of when I feel like it, no order to them really, which might be where the problem lies):
    Bicep curls
    Deadlift (on a machine because I'm too weak to do it with free weights atm, want to work up to freeweights)
    Rear flies
    Shoulder press with dumbells
    Row thingy, dunno what it's called, but on the machine.

    I like doing all these exercises but I lack the knowledge to form them into a well-ordered routine. Can anyone here suggest a good routine that incorporates all these exercises?

    I guess today I found the plank solid cos I just did a class which did a full body strength session, including bicep curls. tricep dips and flies?


    I've just started pilates! We don't do the traditional plank in it at the mo, but we do push up thingies, and I suck at those too :p: But I really want to keep going so I can stick my leg really high up in the air and balance like the instructor! It's great that you can actually see improvement in pilates, plus it's so energising!
    You deadlift using a machine? How is that even possible. I'm sure you can deadlift 40kg.
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    (Original post by Different Cloud)
    Hi.

    Bascialy, it's about progression. Every things about progression, simple because we want our muscles, soft tissues etc to adapt to the load and become more developed as such. I.E. Barbell or Wheel Roll outs are tremendous anti-extension core exercises, but that doesn't mean everybody should do them. Simply because it demands alot of tissue (eccentric) loading or in other words it's too advanced for most people. But all they need to do is work up to that progression with progressive exercises.

    Many females that have trouble with doing abs planks also have trouble performing push- ups. This is because both exercises are very closely related.

    You got 30 seconds doing the plank, which is reasonably okay so I say make sure your technique is spot on and stick with it. Allow yourself some recovery time and try do it another time for longer - Once your ability at that exericse is decent enough, progress it and make it harder.

    With progression in regards to the plank, it's mostly arm positions / levers. The larger the lever, the greater the difficulty in essence.

    If you feel you can't manage the traditional straight leg plank, start with Kneeling Elbow Planks and work up to doing 2 sets of 1min holds. Then step it back up to the traditional elbow plank for the same volume.

    Furthermore, others would include single leg lifts, elevating the feet or upper body, push up planks and then with added elevation etc etc... to where you reach a stage that your able to start incorporating added stability work with swiss ball etc.

    Remember, practice makes perfect.
    Thanks for this, very useful advice which I will definitely use.

    (Original post by cowsforsale)
    You deadlift using a machine? How is that even possible. I'm sure you can deadlift 40kg.
    It's possible because there is a deadlift machine at my gym...I am using it now to get my muscles used to the movements, as I am very weak. I hope to eventually move on to free weights, as I already have with bench press.
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    I guess it's the same with anything... keep doing it and you'll get better.

    I usually hold a plank for 60 secs at the end of every gym session. If I'm really tired/hungry/whatever my body starts to shake...
 
 
 
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