Plank Challenge Week 4

Hey there everyone!  I’m back with the last of the Plank Challenge series.  I hope you all enjoyed the rest of the weeks.  This final week I decided to keep it interesting and use a number of different tools.  There are so many variations of a standard plank, so we’ve only just scratched the surface.  My goal was to expand your horizons just a bit to include a few options you might not have tried before into your core workout routine.

Thanks again to my pals Julie (Training & Champagning) and Jason (Vitalifit) for helping me with the videos in this series.  The Excellence in Exercise crew is deep with talent and I’m lucky to be surrounded by such a passionate and knowledgeable team!  I think it’s almost time to work on some more fun demonstrations soon…

Day 1:  TRX Side Planks w/ Scissor Option

The TRX straps provide a lot of different options for core exercises.  The unstable nature of your feet in the handles make this variation quite challenging for not only your core, but also your stabilizing muscles all throughout the rest of the body.  Keep even pressure through both of your feet throughout the isometric plank hold and even more so if you opt for the scissor movement.  Don’t let your hips drop down to maintain that strong core position.

Day 2:  TRX Knee Tuck & Hip Abduction

This is a great option to bring in some of the hip abductor muscles in a much more functional way than using the innie/outie machine at the gym.  Julie demonstrated a similar version on the sliders, but the TRX straps provide a different element of a challenge.  As with the side plank, make sure to keep even pressure into the feet and maintain the strong upper body position.  Don’t let your back sway as you return to the start position.

Day 3:  Stability Ball Stir the Pot Plank

The stability ball is another classic piece of gym equipment.  While not everyone may have access to suspension straps like the TRX, almost every gym has an assortment of stability balls.  To start out you can work on just holding a standard plank with no movement, but Jason amps it up with the circular movement to challenge balance and core stability even more.  Make sure to move in both directions.

Day 4:  Plank Dumbbell Drag

I was first introduced to this move by another trainer who I have worked with for years.  Though I may have picked a slightly easier weight than I would normally use for demonstration purposes, this movement is a great moving plank variation.  You get your core engagement while also really hammering the upper body.  Personally, when I use an appropriate weight I really feel like I get a solid back workout because this really fires up my lats!

Day 5:  High Plank Bag Pull

Though Julie is using a bag here, this movement can be done with any type of weighted prop.  This is another sneaky way to get some oblique engagement as those muscles kick in to keep you from swaying as you pull the bag side to side.  The shoulders and triceps also get a solid workout from this plank variation.  Make sure to do an even number of pulls from each side and don’t let your hips sway as you pull across the body.

Day 6:  Plank Lateral Hand Walks w/ Pushup Option

Of course I had to bring Jason in for the final pushup option. 😉  He just does them so well!  All the props are fun to use, but you can never go wrong with a classic body weight exercise.  Keep it simple with the side to side walking motion or bring in the upper body with a pushup on each repetition.  You can do this for time, distance or repetitions.  If you don’t have a lot of space just keep going side to side in that solid high plank position.

Day 7:  Banded Plank Toe Taps & Jacks

We are finishing out with one of my favorite props–the loop bands!  It is rare that I go a day without using these for some exercise.  If you don’t have a lot of space or equipment, these are a great tool to purchase to have on hand for a quick workout at home or when you travel.  This is a great way to add a strength component to your plank taps or jacks.  The bands come in all different levels of resistance so that you can start where you feel comfortable and can maintain proper form.  As your strength increases, go up in resistance in the bands or add a second band higher up around the knees to fire up those glutes and other hip abductor muscles for strong legs!

Thanks once again for checking out all of these exercises!  Let me know which ones are your favorites and if you would like to see any other videos like these in the future!

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Author: plantstoplanks

Personal trainer, nutrition and wellness consultant, plant-based cook, avid runner and book-lover. :)

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