Dr. Phil Shares: 5 Rules For Better Planks and a Stronger Core

 

5 Rules For Better Planks and a Stronger Core

Planks are one of the hardest exercises to get right. Yet, most of us incorporate planks into our workouts, whether it’s running, lifting or doing bootcamp. What many of us don’t realize is we’re planking all wrong.

“Planking is the gold standard exercise for core strength and stability,” explains Shana Verstegen, fitness director at Supreme Health and Fitness in Wisconsin. Doing them properly has real benefits. “They will make you a better athlete, help prevent/reduce back pain and allow you to move better in life.”

Here, learn how to maximize the perks of this exercise staple.

Most exercises can benefit from a bit of glute engagement, and planks are no exception. “Squeezing your glutes causes a bit of a stretch in your hip flexors, which transfers more of the workload to the abdominal muscles,” explains Greg Pignataro, certified strength and conditioning coach at Grindset Fitness. And your abdominal muscles are what you’re trying to work, right? “Additionally, contracting the glutes will reduce strain on your lumbar spine by preventing your lower back from sagging,” Pignataro adds.

Seriously. “Dr. Stuart McGill, a professor from the university of Waterloo who has spent 30+ years researching the spine and back pain, touts groundbreaking research about core ‘stiffness,’” Verstegen notes. “Holding planks for 10 seconds at high tension followed by a brief rest period before the next rep creates a much stronger core with fewer injuries.

“Pavel Tsatsouline, most famous for popularizing kettlebell training, agrees. He designed the ‘RKC’ plank around this philosophy of full-body stiffness and also promotes shorter, stronger plank holds.” Try doing a set of 3–10-second holds with maximum contraction for the best core strength gains.

Just as every body is different, every perfect plank setup is different, too. “Due to individual differences in body size and limb length, the ideal position is probably slightly different for every single person,” notes Pignataro. “This is important, because planks should challenge your core musculature, not hurt your elbows or shoulders. Experiment by moving your elbows and feet a few inches inward, outward, backward or forward until you find your sweet spot!”

Some people struggle to feel their abs firing during planks. If that sounds familiar, try this: “Once in plank position, pretend you are looking over a fence by pulling your elbows down so you can get your head and neck to feel taller,” recommends Brian Nguyen, CEO of Elementally Strong. “This will pull your hips and shoulders into alignment and you should feel more where you want it … abs, baby!”

“To make your planks count, every muscle needed to stabilize your spine is firing at a maximal effort,” says Kari Woodall, owner of BLAZE.

Doing so can even even help with your preferred method of exercise. “If I want to crush my deadlifts, I need the requisite core strength to pick up something heavy. If my body doesn’t understand what a maximal contraction feels like, then I am not only limiting how much I can lift, but I’m increasing my risk of injury if I do pick up something heavy,” she explains.

Not feeling the burn? “Squeeze your armpits like you have million-dollar bills tucked underneath each one, and you get to keep the money if no one can rip them away from you,” Woodall adds.

BY JULIA MALACOFF FEBRUARY 4, 2019 4 COMMENTSSHARE IT:

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

Dr Phil Shares: The Best Exercises You Can’t Do Wrong

The Best Exercises You Can’t Do Wrong

No matter what exercise you do, it’s important to use great technique at all times. Period. You might be able to get away with sloppy form for a little bit, but eventually, it’ll catch up with you. That’s why it’s so valuable to have someone by your side, making sure you’re in the correct position and using the correct muscles.

But if don’t have the luxury of hiring a personal trainer, consider doing exercises that are difficult to do incorrectly. It’s not that these movements are easy — it’s just that they force you to use proper technique, otherwise you can’t do them at all.

Welcome to the world of “self-limiting exercises.”

HOW SELF-LIMITING EXERCISES WORK

Most exercises require you to use strength and power to move weight. Self-limiting exercises, however, focus on correct posture, muscular activation, movement, balance and coordination — the moment you do things incorrectly, you won’t be able to do the exercise.

Suddenly, it takes your strength out of the equation. You can’t muscle your way through an exercise or even cheat; instead, these movements challenge you in different ways and force you to do things correctly.

For example, you might bench 250 pounds, but if you struggle to balance on one knee or one leg, you’ll struggle to move weights in that position.

By using self-limiting exercises, you’ll develop better coordination, balance and total-body muscular control, which helps you build a stronger and more powerful body.

5 SELF-LIMITING EXERCISES TO ADD TO YOUR ROUTINE

SINGLE-ARM, BOTTOMS-UP KETTLEBELL PRESS

By holding a kettlebell “bottoms-up” (with the large part above the handle), it instantly turns an exercise into a self-limiting exercise. That’s because, to keep the kettlebell balanced, your entire body — posture, core, etc. — needs to work in sync, otherwise the kettlebell will fall. (Even if you tried to squeeze the handle as hard as you could, it will still fall if you’re not balanced.)

By doing a press while balancing a kettlebell, you’ll build shoulder strength while targeting your stabilizing muscles.

The move: Stand and hold a kettlebell in the bottoms-up position by your shoulder. Press the kettlebell up without it falling, squeeze your glutes and tighten your abs throughout. Don’t think about pushing the kettlebell away from you; think about driving yourself into the ground.

SINGLE-ARM FARMER’S CARRIES

Farmer’s carries are a simple way to build a strong core and develop endurance. Once your grip gets tired or your posture breaks down, you won’t be able to go any further. (How’s that for self-limiting?

The move: Grab heavy dumbbells or kettlebells, stand tall with your chest up and shoulders back and walk. Try using just one arm for extra core work or varying your grip. For example, wrap a towel around each dumbbell and hold the towels instead of the handles.

SKATER SQUATS

Want to build strong legs and great lower-body stability and balance without worrying about hurting yourself? Skater squats are a great addition to your workout routine. Just go down and come back up. If you lose your balance, you’ll naturally stop; if you lack the strength, you’ll be stuck at the bottom.

The move: Start from standing and bend one foot behind you. Then, squat down while trying to touch your bent knee onto the ground behind you. Lean your torso and reach your arms forward as you descend. If you can’t reach the ground with your knee, that’s fine — just go as low as you can.

SINGLE-LEG ROMANIAN DEADLIFTS

The single-leg Romanian deadlift is one of the best exercises to strengthen your glutes, hamstrings and hip stabilizers. Even better, it encourages great technique, balance, coordination and muscle activation. To perform the exercise, you’ll have to do everything correctly — if something breaks down, you’ll automatically stop and put down your weights.

The move: Grab a dumbbell or kettlebell in your right hand. With your right leg, reach back as far as you can while sitting into your left hip. Keep your shoulders pulled back and imagine crushing your right armpit. Go down as far as you can while maintaining the natural arch in your lower back. Perform all your reps and switch sides.

HALF-KNEELING KETTLEBELL HALO

This is one of the best core exercises you’re (probably) not doing. First, halos hammer your core from many different angles while keeping your body neutral. Second, by getting on just one knee and reducing your “base of support,” it puts all the emphasis on your core, posture and balance — you simply cannot cheat this exercise.

The move: Get on one knee while keeping your feet in-line and hold one kettlebell in both hands with the large part over your hands. Keep your lower back neutral and make big circles around your head with the kettlebell. Do all your reps one way and then switch directions. Then, switch knees.

by Anthony J. Yeung

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

http://www.forwardhealth.ca

Dr. Phil Shares: 10 Exercises to Strengthen Your Core

10 Ab Exercises to Get a Shredded Six-Pack

 

If there’s one thing we all value in a relationship, it’s honesty. So let’s get this one off on the right track.

That set of corrugated abs you want? Getting them is gonna require a lot more than just holding off on that third piece of pizza and doing an extra set of crunches next week.

The good news is we’ve assembled 10 ab exercises that will put you on the path to those abs you’ve always wanted to take for a walk on the beach.

These basic moves don’t require weights and won’t have you doing hundreds of boring crunches. They’re beginner-friendly, but they’re not easy. These are fast-paced, core-burning moves by Beachbody Master Trainers like Shaun TTony Horton, and Sagi Kalev.

10 of the Best Ab Exercises to Get a Six-Pack

Before you tackle these ab exercises, take a few minutes to warm up your core. Try jogging in place, jumping jacks, or just holding a plank for 45 seconds. Or try Tony Horton’s quick, total body warm-up routine.

Instead of thinking about reps for the following ab exercises, try to keep going for 30 to 60 seconds for each.

Standing Mountain Climber

best abs exercises men and woman standing mountain climber shaun t insanity max 30

This strong cardio ab exercise will get your heart rate elevated, your muscles warm, and your body ready to work out. Your abs and hip flexors are sure to feel it.

• Start out in a standing position, making sure there’s nothing on the floor around you. Push the coffee table out of the way and make sure you won’t step on the cat’s tail.

• Make fists and keep them at shoulder-height in front of you as you begin running in place, bringing your knees up as high as you can.

• As your right leg lifts up, punch your left arm toward the ceiling, keeping your core engaged throughout the move. Alternate arms and legs for 60 seconds.

Appears in: INSANITY MAX:30: Max Out Abs

Dolphin Knee Drop

best abs exercises men and woman dolphin knee drop masters hammer and chisel sagi kalev

Time to get on the floor for a kick-butt core strengthener that also targets your shoulders, which are recruited to stabilize your body.

• Start in a dolphin plank: Assume a push-up position, but with your weight on your forearms instead of your hands, elbows stacked beneath your shoulders, palms on the floor.

• Keeping your core braced and legs straight, walk your feet forward two to three small steps, lifting your hips into the air.

• Lower your knees until they brush the floor, keeping your belly button pulled in toward your spine, then lift your hips back up, straightening your legs.

• Walk your feet back to starting position. Repeat.

Appears in: Body Beast: Abs

Rock the Boat

10 Ab Exercises to Get a Shredded Six Pack men and woman rock the boat 22 minute hard corps tony horton

This ab exercise is a little bit crunch-y, a little bit rock and roll.

• Start in a V-sit, with your knees bent, shins parallel to the ceiling, spine elongated. Your fingers can gently rest on your hamstrings, just under your knees.

• Keeping your core engaged, gently roll backward, and begin to round your spine. Lightly tuck your chin and roll onto your upper back, hips lifted off the floor.

• Roll forward into a boat pose, balancing on your sit bones as you straighten your legs, and reach forward with your arms. Pause before repeating.

Appears in: 22 Minute Hard Corps: Core 1

Ski Down Abs

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Imagine a black diamond mogul course and get ready to sweat as you fire up your obliques.

• Start a V-sit with just your heels and sit bones on the floor. Your spine should be elongated, your lower back flat, and your hands together in fists in front of you.

• As you scoop your fists to your right, lift your heels and bring them to the left.

• Lift your left elbow to lead your hands to your left side. Heels lift, setting down to your right. Keep alternating quickly.

Appears in: INSANITY MAX:30: Max Out Abs

Mountain Climber/Twist/Spider

best abs exercises men and woman mountain climber twist spiderman masters hammer and chisel sagi kalev

This ab exercise will kickstart your heart rate and use all your abdominal muscles to stabilize your moving plank.

• Start in a high plank, shoulders stacked over wrists and away from your ears, eyes focused in between your hands. Keep your hips in line with your shoulders and engage your core.

• Start off with a mountain climber: bring your right knee to your chest, step it back in line with your left foot. Bring your left knee forward toward your chest, step it back in line with your right.

• Move into a twist by bringing your right knee across your body to your left elbow. Step it back to meet your left foot. Bring your left knee forward, across your body to your right elbow. Step it back.

• Finally, bring your right knee forward to the outside of your right elbow for the spider. Step your foot back to meet your left foot. Bring your left knee forward to the outside of your left elbow. Step it back. Repeat series.

Appears in: Body Beast: Abs

Crunch

best abs exercises men and woman crunch body beast sagi kalev

Give yourself a short breather with the basic crunch. By lifting your legs to 90 degrees, you’ll target your entire core.

• Lie on your back, with your knees and hips bent at 90 degrees so that your shins are parallel to the floor and your knees are stacked atop your hips.

• Place your hands behind your head and pretend there’s an orange underneath your chin as you peel your shoulder blades up off the floor. Don’t squish your imaginary orange, and keep your gaze locked on the ceiling to protect your neck.

• Lower to starting position with control and repeat.

Appears in: Body Beast: Abs – Classic

Hi-Low Jack

best abs exercises men and woman high low jack 22 minute hard corps tony horton

Take your ab workout to a new place with plank jacks, alternating between high and low movements.

• Start in a high plank, wrists directly beneath your shoulders, abs drawn in, and lower back flat.

• Hop your feet outward and back to starting position, then lower onto your right and left forearms, coming into your low, or forearm, plank.

• Hop your feet outward and back together, then press back up onto your right and left hands to come back into your high plank. Repeat.

Appears in: 22 Minute Hard Corps: Special Ops – Core

Switch Kick Abs

best abs exercises men and woman switch kick abs shaun t insanity max 30

This punch-to-the-gut ab exercise is designed to get the most out of your core. You might even feel your hip flexors begin to burn.

• Lie on your back with your legs lifted straight in the air at 90 degrees. If your hamstrings feel tight, bend your knees as necessary.

• Lower your left heel as close to the floor as you can, then punch your left arm toward your right heel, adding in a twist.

• Simultaneously lift your left leg and lower your right, bringing your left fist back toward your shoulder, and punching toward your lifted left leg with your right fist.

• Repeat, alternating legs as quickly as you can with control.

Appears in: INSANITY MAX:30: Ab Attack:10

Low Plank Side Punch

best abs exercises men and woman low plank side punch shaun t insanity max 30

Hop back into a forearm plank for this ab shredder that has you shift your weight as you throw stability-challenging haymakers.

• Start in a forearm plank, with your elbows stacked beneath your shoulders, core braced, and legs extended straight behind you.

• Shift your weight toward your left forearm and punch your right arm out to the side until it’s straight. Look toward your hand as you punch, then bring it back down to starting position.

• Shift your weight toward your right forearm and punch with your left. Repeat.

Appears in: INSANITY MAX:30: Ab Attack:10

Beast Abs

best abs exercises men and woman body beast sagi kalev

Wanna smile and cringe at the same time? Then get ready to spell!

• Lie on your back, and place your hands flat on the floor beneath your hips, bringing your forefingers and thumbs together into a diamond.

• Press your lower back to the floor, and engage your abs as you lift your legs and begin to spell out the letters B-E-A-S-T with your feet. Remember to breathe!

• Spell B-E-A-S-T backwards. Rest.

Appears in: Body Beast: Abs-Classic

To see how these moves unite to form complete workouts, stream all of our most popular programs at Beachbody On Demand. Pull up 22 Minute Hard CorpsINSANITY MAX: 30, and Body Beast, along with dozens more programs on your TV set-top box or mobile device now!

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Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health