View Full Version : Working up to a plank?

Peter Dell'Orto
05-11-2009, 05:21 PM
For trainees who can't manage a plank, is there a good progression to get them there?

Lately I've been working with a number of kids (<12). One of the exercises they're expected to manage to successfully execute is the plank...but it's beyond most of them when they arrive. So I'm wondering what's a good way to build them up to a plank.

I've gotten the suggestion to start them on a raised surface, such as a wall or bench. I've also gotten some suggestions about using bird dog progressions to teach them the right posture before I get them up into a plank.

Does anyone else have some suggestions about a good way to get them there?

Thanks to all who reply.

Garrett Smith
05-11-2009, 06:05 PM
Use the Smith machine or something else to progressively decrease the angle.

Inchworm walkouts...from standing, bend over to put hands on the floor, walk hands forward into a plank, then walk feet into hands, repeat as desired.

I'm not sure if the two-person "wheelbarrow" walks would work in this case, but they might...

Push-ups done with good neutral torso will indirectly train the plank.

Start them training planks on their forearms if their (lack of) wrist strength is a big deal, or have them on their fists. Simultaneously work on their wrist support strength.

Patrick Donnelly
05-11-2009, 06:59 PM
Can they not hold one at all, or can they simply not hold one for long?

If it's just that they can't hold one for long, then work on push-ups to help train it, like Garrett recommended. Most physical fitness tests involve push-ups too. Is that the case here? If so, two birds, one stone.

Adjusting the angle of the plank is also good, but don't limit yourself to using a Smith machine... Anything with height will do.

Hollow position holds on the floor (short duration, probably, due to lack of strength), and hollow rocks for the stronger ones would also be good. Cue them to pinch an imaginary coin to the floor beneath their lower back.

Peter Dell'Orto
05-12-2009, 12:44 PM
We're talking "can't hold a plank at all."

It's not for a pushup test; they're just expected to be able to do activities x, y, and z during and at the end of the process. "Plank" is one of those.

I like the inchworm suggestion, and I'm going to try planks onto a bench or platform of some kind. No smith machine, I'm doing these in a gymnasium, but I can find something to use.

Is the straight-arm plank considered harder than the plank on the elbows? I personally found it much easier to hold with the arms straight out. It seems like if elevating the torso makes it easier, elevating the torso by using straight arms would make it easier, not harder. Am I wrong in that?

And thanks for the help, guys, I appreciate it.

Garrett Smith
05-12-2009, 05:12 PM
The straight arm versions are easier, unless someone has wrist issues.

You might also try an ab wheel, on the knees of course...

Peter Dell'Orto
05-12-2009, 05:30 PM
The straight arm versions are easier, unless someone has wrist issues.

Okay, good, that gives me another avenue to work.

You might also try an ab wheel, on the knees of course...

I don't have an ab wheel, but I can get some swiss balls and mats (to keep them from sliding). They're sufficiently high to provide a good height but takes away the "Why is this guy making us lean against the wall?" angle. I'll try it myself before I have them try it, though. :)

Garrett Smith
05-12-2009, 05:41 PM
Swiss balls are a good place to start, I'm sure you can find some video of "swiss ball rollouts" or something similar on the web.

Peter Dell'Orto
05-13-2009, 05:30 PM
I'm going to try the Swiss ball rollouts next time, but for now, the straight-arm version of the plank was much easier for my kids to work on. That helped a lot - thanks guys!