Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Core Values, Week 3 + Training Update

I used to think it was a matter of preference but the truth is there is a difference in the training dynamic when it comes to doing a plank.

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The straight arm is the classic. Hands are underneath shoulders and hips are lifted without being hiked. Not only does the exercise engage the abdominal muscles but it integrates the shoulder girdle, triceps and the fronts of the legs, otherwise known as the quads. I like to make sure I'm engaging those muscles by trying to push my heels to the back as I get long through the top of my head.

This variation also has a longer "lever" with the straight arms, which could make it it a bit more challenging than other variations. Keep in mind that if you have shoulder instability or wrist problems, this exercise could compromise those conditions and the effectiveness of the exercise.

The forearm plank, with palms planted on the floor and elbows under shoulders, is less full body and a more targeted core exercise. Why? The center of gravity shifts and forces more of the trunk muscles to be recruited to keep the body stable.

Something to think about: A lot of photos show people performing this plank with clasped hands. However, my physical therapist told me that doing that was "cheating." ACE, the group through which I'm certified, also instructs palms down on the floor. Other trainers say clasp the hands.

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So how did I do this week? Well, there were a few nights of rolling my ass off the couch to get in but I did much better than last week.

How did you do? Be sure to comment for an entry into the giveaway.

Exercises to try this week: Plank with hip dips, Quadraped Bent-Knee Hip Extensions, Dirty Dog, V-Ups, bicycle crunches and butterfly crunch

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The week, in training:

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: 4 miles, tempo
Wednesday: 3 miles + Bodypump
Thursday: 38 minutes on indoor trainer + Ripped
Friday: 5 miles, intervals
Saturday: Bodypump + 30 minutes on trainer
Sunday: Almost 6-mile snowy run with the group


  1. 6 out of 7 days this week! And now I know why the forearm planks are harder than the straight arms.

  2. Love all these workouts you post! I have to admit, I haven't stuck with the challenge but have been doing abs about twice a week for 15 minutes each (P90X style). I suppose it is better than nothing. Will try to get this one in this week. xo

  3. So forearm is the way to go on plank then? We want to target core, right? Ooooh I haven't done dirty dogs in ages. Love me some jack knife ball action. I think this vortex is making me loony.

  4. Thanks for the workout photos! These are exercises I can do. Your running group looks happy to be outside and running. I just can't bring myself to run outside in this weather yet.

  5. Hmm, I did 30 inclined sit-ups, 30 back extensions, and 30 side extensions (each side) on Monday. And some leg swings on the captain's chair. And some kettlebell windmills and swings and other stuff. That's core, right? #plankhater

  6. Good to know - I won't clasp my hands anymore when planking! Great info, thanks!

  7. Core values: the one thing I've been able to do right this month, exercise-wise.

    I always elbow plank, hands not clasped. I can't straight arm plank because my right wrist won't allow it. I have trouble with pushups, too actually.

  8. I again missed one or two days this week -- but I have been trying some a lot of plank variations, and moving side to side, up and down. Keeps me having to stay stable!

  9. Great ideas!! Plank is so boring. So the variations help me get through it!! :)