Do you know fitness guru Mark Sisson? Mark is the man behind the Primal Blueprint Movement — a healthy low-carb lifestyle that some people describe as Paleo with a relaxed attitude. Whatever you call it, I buy into it. Last year I took readers on Mark’s 21-Day Total Body Transformation.
You will recall that I am on a mission to find the best exercises to whittle my waist. To that end, we have explored and now understand the layers of the abdominal muscles and how to use isometric contractions as the basis for all our abdominal routines. Today we look to Mark for instruction on my favorite exercise to work those transversus abdominis: Planks.
Transversus Abdominis are the deepest layer of the abdominal muscles and wrap around the torso from front to back and from the ribs to the pelvis. The muscle fibers of the transversus abdominis run horizontally, similar to a corset or a weight belt.
How to do a Proper Plank
According to Mark, here are the steps to a proper plank:
- Get in the pushup position, only put your forearms on the ground instead of your hands. Your elbows should line up directly underneath your shoulders. Toes on the ground.
- Squeeze your glutes and tighten your abdominals (Hint: use the isometric contraction technique that we learned).
- Keep a neutral neck and spine.
- Create a straight, strong line from head to toes — a plank, if you will.
- Hold that position.
- Don’t let your hips sag down to the ground. Sagging hips makes the exercise initially easier, but it’s not a plank and it defeats the purpose of the exercise.
- Look down at the ground. This is a good prompt for maintaining a neutral neck position.
- When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.
Four Weeks to Great Abs
Fitness magazine recommends that you choose one move to work each of the abdominal muscle zones. By doing so, you create a one-moves ab circuit that works the rectus abdominis, external oblique, internal oblique, and transversus abdominis.
Photo credit: Dorit Thies
Here is their plank method which incorporates a dumbbell:
- Get into plank position.
- Slowly lift left arm straight out to side at shoulder height, keeping hips and core still.
- Lower arm.
- Do 10 reps, staying in plank.
- Switch arms; repeat.
Fitness promises you’ll be on your way to gorgeous abs in just four weeks. And if you like planks like I do, it might just be fun, too.
Up next we’ll learn how to Get a Smaller Waist by Working the Obliques. But make sure you understand the foundational concepts of abdominal exercises. Here’s what to read:
Living life well-fed,
My Bariatric Life