Plank It! Part 2 – Planks on the Total Gym

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Did you say more planks please? You got it! It’s music to my ears to deliver another plank series for you to expand your fitness knowledge and intensify your workout challenge.

In the previous Plank IT blog, we discussed the importance of plank training, the muscles worked, correct form, and how to perform an incline plank workout on your Total Gym equipment. Click here to access the Incline Plank Blog 1.0!

Planks are truly one of the best total body exercises that strengthens and conditions multiple muscles simultaneously. There are so many variations of planks that can be incorporated into any fitness routine. Planks are the single, most efficient exercise that can be challenged from any angle using your own body weight to functionally develop your inner strength powers.

BENEFITS OF PLANKS

Here are more amazing things that will happen within your body when you include planks to your daily regimen.

Improves Balance & Posture

Proper plank form requires you to engage your abs to maintain the correct position.  The spine is fully elongated with equal weight distributed evenly through the upper and lower body.

  • Postural alignment will improve with consistent plank work allowing you to sit, stand, and walk straighter with ease.
  • Balance is challenged when lifting an arm, a leg, or a combination of opposition as well as maintaining balance from a side plank position. If you really want to challenge your core balance and stability, add a stability ball or open the glide board on the Total Gym to test your strength.

Tummy Tone Up

Regular ‘crunches’ are, well… outdated. A plank is the way to go to tone up the entire core (front, back, sides, and every muscle in between)! A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning stated that “the plank provides 100% activation of your six-pack muscles whereas crunches only engage 64%”.

Increases Metabolism & Burns Fat

Planks can be dynamic and act as a cardio drill, however, it’s not something you may want to sustain for longer than a few minutes. With this being said, planks are a more efficient way of burning fat due to its overall strength development. During strength training, your metabolic rate increases post exercise, which keeps your body in a fat burning mode to burn off extra calories. The more muscle you have, the more you burn off.

Plank Party

Once you start planking regularity and see the results within your body, you will be hooked! Challenge your intensity by increasing the duration, add a movement drill, include other equipment, or perform other variations at different angles. Better yet… create a plank party by performing ‘game-like’ moves with others for fitness fun!

IMPORTANCE OF A STRONG CORE

The core is composed of a complex series of muscles including way more muscles than just your ‘abs’. The entire core region includes muscles of the shoulders, torso, and hips- basically everything besides your arms and legs.

Performing only core exercises (ex: crunches) aren’t the answer. Rather, it’s best to include functional movements that involve the entire body so that the strength and power is initiated by the core. This is why the plank exercise is such a valuable, functional, and all-rounded exercise for functional strength development.

COMMON PLANK MISTAKES

Proper form is important when performing any exercise, especially a plank. If your form is not perfected, it could lead to discomfort or a potential injury.

When performing a plank, pay attention to how you feel in your neck, shoulders, or lower back. If there is any sign of pain in these areas, it could be an indication of weakness in the upper or lower spine. Also, if the core is weak, the spine will sag or arch causing compression in the vertebrae, place pressure on the discs, and cause added strain to the shoulder joints.

These are the most common plank mistakes you want to avoid:

  • Sagging the hips, dropping the head, or sinking the shoulders.
  • Placing hands too close or too far apart- this creates instability and creates strain on the shoulder joints at different angles.
  • Not breathing- holding your breath results in protruding your abdominals rather than drawing them inward.
  • Holding for too long- it’s better to maintain proper form for a shorter time than to sacrifice improper form for longer. Don’t let it get sloppy!

Here’s a blog that explains the importance of proper core form. https://youtu.be/e_W8f7n40U8

DECLINE PLANK & YOUR TOTAL GYM

Your Total Gym equipment is such a great tool to master a variety of planks at any fitness level. Varied incline settings allow you to challenge your overall strength.  The previous blog covered an Incline Plank variations. During this blog, let’s flip your body around to face away from the tower and set up for the Decline Plank.

The Decline Plank is set up the same way as a standard plank, however your feet are placed on a raised incline. To achieve this position on your Total Gym, place your hands at the bottom base and your feet or knees on the GB.

The higher the incline angle, the harder the core and upper body challenge.  The lower the incline, the challenge will be slightly easier and you can focus on your form.

DECLINE PLANK WORKOUT

I’ve created a circuit workout composed of 5 Decline Plank variations that you can perform on your Total Gym! Combined them with the Incline Plank (part 1.0) workout to really change up and challenge your workouts.

DIRECTIONS:

  • Choose an appropriate incline for your fitness strength. Change the intensity by lowering of raising the incline at any time.
  • Perform the following plank variations in circuit form, one after the other, with little to no rest between exercises.
  • REPS or TIME: Aim to perform 10 REPS of each exercise or choose a set TIME to perform each exercise. (ex: 20, 40, 60+ seconds)
  • SETS: 1-3 SETS depending on your workout timing. (suggested 2 SETS)
  • Conclude with a post workout stretch to recover and stretch the muscles worked.
  • GB = Total Gym Glide Board

Decline Plank

  • Place feet or knees (modified) on the glide board and hands at the base. (an open GB is more challenging)
  • Hold this position to develop strength and stamina.

Decline Push-Ups

  • Assume a decline plank position by placing hands at the base and feet on the GB.
  • Open the GB for more challenge and lower into a push-up. (The GB will move)
  • Modify with a closed GB or keep the knees resting on the GB.

Decline Pike-Up

  • Assume the decline plank position with the GB open.
  • Pike the hips upward and slightly close the GB while keeping the torso, arms and legs elongated. (body forms a triangle position)
  • Return back to starting position and repeat.
  • Challenge: swivel the hips to one side to work the obliques.

Decline Knee Tucks

  • Assume the decline plank position with the GB open. (feet at bottom of GB)
  • Keeping the torso elongated, tuck both knees in towards the arms, then extend to starting position to repeat.
  • Challenge: swivel the knees to one side and tuck them in towards elbows.

Decline Forearm Side Plank & Pike-Ups

  • Assume a decline forearm plank with the GB open (advanced) or closed (modified)
  • Roll onto one forearm and allow the body to follow. (side plank)
  • Hold the forearm side plank for a few seconds.
  • Rest in child’s pose, then repeat on other side.
  • Challenge: perform side pike-ups or release one arm. (move slowly with control to stay balanced)

ULTIMATE CHALLENGE:

Pick your plank variation and hold it for 30 seconds each day. Add on 30 extra seconds as it becomes too easy. Your goal is to eventually hold a plank for a total of 3 minutes.

Check out the video to see how these decline plank exercises are performed and how you can incorporate them into your Total Gym routine.

Now you have two killer plank workouts (Incline and Decline Planks) that can be performed separately or combined together and incorporate into any routine.

PEACE & PLANK OUT

Adding planks to your daily regimen will help you obtain your ultimate fitness level.  Get your plank on and see what your body can accomplish!

Best,

Maria

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