Basic Core Conditioning – Mastering the Plank

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Basic Core Conditioning – Mastering the Plank

Functional core conditioning is one that promotes useful application to real life situations.

In the plank, if you are not orienting your stability from your Transverse Abdominis, you might be missing the point of doing this exercise in the first place.

With everyone obsessed over how long they can do a plank, it’s important to note that there is a trade off for that excessively long plank.

Main one being that a person will shut down eccentric and concentric range of motion to their anterior and posterior oblique sling systems.

I would call this rigidness from excessive dysfunctional core activity as a “frozen core”.

When your obliques, rectus abdominis and quadratus lumborum muscles compensate for a lack of stability in the transverse abdominis (caused by associative muscular deficiencies), it is likely they will all become static muscles to stabilize the body.

The problem is we are asking dynamic muscles to perform a static function.

BIG NO NO!!!

The biomechanical results are very ugly and will lead to a deficient compensated structure that will perform in a mediocre fashion.

In this video, I show you the basics of what you will need to effectively do a plank in a way that will improve your functional biomechanics in a 3 dimensional space.

Learn to recruit your TVA in a fashion you would actually use and you will open the door to functionality!!!

Transcript:

Hello this is Naudi Aguilar at Functional Patterns. For today’s video, I’m going to cover how to properly execute a plank. This is one of those exercise you see commonly done in the fitness industry by people of all walks of life, and I see that the most common way to measure progression within it is how long you can do it for. My concern with the plank is more for corrective purposes in terms of fixing posture and improving the functionality of your movement for when you’re doing things in real life, so my purposes might differ specifically than most people’s.

Now, in terms of how it’s going to apply, how it’s going to change your mechanics is really going to be oriented around a muscle called your transverse abdominis. Your transverse abdominis is going to almost act as a corset to hold your spine together and keep you nice and upright, and if you do a plank with improper biomechanics, what you kind of do is end up shutting down the activity of that transverse abdominis.

What we’re going to focus on today is trying to maximize the function of the transverse abdominis so you get that good, static core stability from the inside so then your muscles on the outside, you have your obliques, your external and internal obliques, your rectus abdominis, those muscles can then begin to eccentrically and concentrically contract. When they take you through gate, when you’re going to throw a ball, you want to have that nice and loose, but before we can have that looseness on the outer parts of the core, that inner core, that inner stability needs to be there, and that inner stability is going to be the foundation of much of the efficiency that you’re going to look for if you’re looking for functionality with your body.

To begin, what I’m going to have you doing is starting your plank from your knees. Most people usually do their plank from their feet. That’s the lowest progression they can typically go for. I actually do even easier progression than the knees, but that would go into a whole other assortment of explanations that I would have to go to, so what I want you to think about is starting from your knees.

You’re going to place this stick to the swell of your back. Simply put, your goal should mainly be that your stick is going to be completely flat through the entire portion of the spine. For most of you, as soon as you get here, you’re going to end up dropping your hips into an anterior pelvic shift. I’ve talked about them in other videos before where your pelvis begins to drop anteriorly this way. To compensate, you may also have some kind of a kyphotic rounding. This is a huge no-no. You’ll see the stick has actually just fallen off of my back from here. You don’t want to have this pattern here. If you do have this, this is probably going to … What’s probably going to happen is that your transverse abdominis is no longer going to be there to stabilize your spine. It is going to be your auxiliary muscles like your external obliques, your internal obliques, your rectus abdominis, they’re going to be the ones that are going to stabilize in that circumstance.

Just think of it this way. If I’m here with this anterior pelvic shift, and I’m rounded, my lower portions of my abdomen, everything down here are going to be overextended. The tensegrity there is off, so I will not be capable of activating that musculature. This is a big no-no when it comes to your mechanics.

Now, the first thing that you’ll want to focus on when you’re doing this exercise is bringing your hips up just a slight bit. You’ll see that my hips almost match the position of my shoulders here, almost at that level here. For most people, by the time they get to here, they’re still going to have some kind of anterior tilt, so what you’re going to do is actually do a slight posterior tilt, and then brace down on the abdomen, not tightening it, but retracting your navel as far as you can, and that’s going to get you here.

Next thing that you might go into as a compensation when you do this posterior pelvic tilt is you might begin to kyphotically round your T spine, so what you’re going to have to focus on is lifting the pelvis, slightly posteriorly tilting the pelvis after that, and then from there, retracting the shoulder blades, but you’re almost going to have to do them all at once. I’ll show you what that’s going to look like.

I’ll put this stick on the swell of my back. I’m going to … Likely, the dysfunction that you’re probably going to elicit if you’ve never really tried to properly execute a plank, so I’ll have the kyphosis, I’ll have the anterior pelvic shift, I’ll have the extended lower abdomen, and what I’m going to do from here is actually shift the pelvis posteriorly lifting it upward, posteriorly tilting the pelvis, retracting the scapula, and then I’m going to access my transverse abdominis through the retraction of my navel, not tightening my abdomen, but just retracting my navel as I retract my scapula.

Something else you can also do in here to ensure that your T spine musculature is giving you support is taking a nice, deep breath, and then sending it into your thoracic spine, sending the breath into your ribcage, into your T spine. You’ll hang out there. By the time you end up doing that, you should begin to feel your core work significantly.

Now, in terms of doing progressions of planks where you see people go here, putting this on swell of their back, they’re going to their … That wasn’t very good. If I go here, they’ll do some sort of a plank progression where they’ll be here. They’re on their feet. They’ll lift one leg off the ground, lift one arm off the ground. They’ll be doing stuff like this, extending out. Most of the time, you won’t find too many people that are going to have the strength to keep that stick on the swell of their back as they’re moving, and that’s mainly because they never learned how to do it correctly at a foundation.

Before you move on to any of the fancy stuff with lifting your legs off the ground and progressing it to activate your core, you have to make sure that you’re orienting that muscle activity from the right areas. It has to start in the transverse abdominis first because the TVA, the transverse abdominis, is the one that orients your center when it comes to most of your movement. It has to start from there. If it doesn’t, that’s where you start getting a lot of muscular compensations when you’re doing any movements in reality.

The plank is really just going to be here as a tool to improve your functionality when you’re walking, when you’re running, when you’re squatting. You want to get yourself into a point where you’re activating these muscles well so you can use it. That’s the whole point of that. That’s the whole point of having functionality, to activate muscles in the way that you’re actually going to use them. More importantly, to activate muscles in a way that improve or exceed the potential of your human biological characteristics.

I do hope that you guys found this video to be useful. Be on the lookout for more. I will be releasing them in the next coming weeks. This is Naudi Aguilar, reminding you to live intentionally and not habitually. I’ll see you guys soon.

2018-07-07T12:36:35+00:00

12 Comments

  1. Judith Bush January 5, 2015 at 1:05 am - Reply

    Thanks functional patterns for this will start my planking again as my arms shake while doing fancy stuff!!

  2. Colleen January 16, 2015 at 10:23 pm - Reply

    YEAH. THAT’s how it’s done, baybee! Thanks for all your share.

  3. Gillian W January 25, 2015 at 10:35 pm - Reply

    Thanks for posting this – great to be reminded it’s all about form & not length of time.

  4. Renee Sanelli January 27, 2015 at 7:56 pm - Reply

    Good stuff, I love it. My question is, are you saying that the TVA is more of a stabilizing/static hold muscle and that the other core muscles, the more superficial ones are muscles that are supposed to be dynamically strong?

  5. Beata March 26, 2015 at 1:18 am - Reply

    Thank you so much for posting this! I had spinal surgery and the physio said to do a good 5 minutes planking every day. But as you pointed out, after a few seconds the hips tilt and shoulders hunch. I now understand that the real aim shouldn’t be how long, but the quality of the plank. Thank you for posting the video.

  6. Matt August 24, 2015 at 3:21 pm - Reply

    Hey, I’m enjoying your videos and the way you approach things. I work with a lot of clients in back rehab, post surgery and with chronic conditions. Stuart McGill talks a lot of ‘bracing’, and engaging all of the musculature available to your core to stabilise the spine. His EMG studies showed the various levels of activation throughout different, traditional core exercises. Plank is not included but push up (full and from knees) is and is a very similar set up postion to a plank – the results showed that transverse was activating less than RA, EO, and IO.

    I am interested to hear your take on that.

  7. Trish January 26, 2016 at 6:35 pm - Reply

    ah now I understand! thank you…

  8. Caroline Sellers February 11, 2016 at 12:28 am - Reply

    Great explanation and demonstration – thanks

  9. Dorte Richardson July 13, 2016 at 10:30 am - Reply

    Great video and demonstration

  10. Jessica October 25, 2017 at 3:50 pm - Reply

    What if you can’t do this without kyphosis or an ATP? Is there a progression to this?

    • William Menzies October 26, 2017 at 1:52 am - Reply

      Hey Jessica,

      Yes you can always have a resistance band attached to an anchor in the ceiling pulling you up to reduce the weight you have to support.

      Where are you located you can always visit one of our Practitioners?

      Regards,
      The FP Team

      • Jessica March 4, 2018 at 2:11 pm - Reply

        I am in central Connecticut.

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