Three Important Exercises You Forgot About (Part 1)
Remember planks? When training the, “core” was the new hotness? It seems that back then planks were enough of a challenge for us. But now we have 100 anti-rotation presses (Pallof Press) variations, all kinds of chops and lifts, rollers, the TRX, Extreme Core Trainers (for landmines), etc. Now before you start that forum post, I am not saying those are in anyway bad or that they do not have value in your program. But with all of these variations we can sometimes forget what worked so well in the past as well as lead to some confusion and indecisiveness when it comes to programming.
(“Planks? What about that cool exercise I saw in that article on that website with jacked dudes?”)
From my various discussions with other coaches and trainers in the industry I think many have forgotten the importance of the, “vanilla” prone plank. Even I am guilty of taking them out of my programming, replacing them with the newest and most challenging core exercises I can find. But, when you really think about it, planks f*cking rock and should be a staple in our programs due to their massive benefits.
- They teach and train scapular stability
- Train core endurance, obviously (will come back to this in a bit further down the blog)
- And most importantly, reinforce proper posture and alignment throughout the body when performed correctly
Core endurance is something we should talk about for a second because we need to understand why it is so vital. Again, nothing new here, but core endurance can help us avoid the very common issue of low back pain that plagues the world today. Think of your, “core,” and the surrounding structures of your lumbar spine (including the extensors, lateral flexors, and forward flexors) as the foundation of your upper body. And even in part as a driver for your lower body’s performance and health.
(You will see “rope like” erectors in athletes and people who over rely on stability from their low back)
You want there to be symmetry and healthy structural relationships between the, “supports.” For example you don’t want your erectors to be all jacked up and over developed. Same thing with an overly tight psoas.
Now we know we need to train core endurance as well as strength. Many exercises train these simultaneously, this is where your anti-rotation presses for reps and exercises such as rollouts come into play. With that being said, we can not forget the previous reasons why planks are such a vital tool in developing a solid and versotial structure that will facilitate load base movements, be it weight lifting, carrying a child, or driving a car in the latest Fast and Furious Movie.
(Remember, “It’s not the ride, it’s the Rider.”)
I won’t go on and on… Now to the fun stuff, yes planks are awesome, and you should be programming them into your training, but here are some variations that will allow you to spice things up a bit…
And don’t forget to perform your planks with correct form! I can not tell you how many times I see planks done with shoddy/lazy form:
Prone Plank/1-Leg Plank
Feet Supported Side Plank
TRX Plank and Side Plank
I forgot to shoot a video of these, will get them up tonight. But the important thing here is to keep glutes tight, toes pointed down towards the ground like a regular plank.
Side Plank Wall Slides