The Prone Plank
Why This Exercise
It is the first of the FOUNDATIONAL FOUR in developing a Rock Solid Core.
Eliminate nagging low back pain.
Prevent low back injuries.
Develop your 6 Pack and look great!
Tone, tighten and look leaner by working these muscles (especially when combined with activities to reduce body fat overall).
How To Do It
Begin by lying on the floor face down. Place your forearms flat on the floor alongside your body. Keep your feet no more than shoulder width apart with your toes on the floor.
To begin pre-contract the core muscles by consciously tightening them.
Cueing TIP #1: Think Tight (consciously contract the abdominals by drawing your navel towards your spine)
Push up onto your forearms so that your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your heels.
Cueing TIP #2: Think Tall (consciously imagine elongating your body as if you were 2 inches taller than you actually are)
Ensure you are in a straight line and that your hips are not higher or dropped sagging towards the floor. Ensure your elbows fall directly under your shoulders when in the upright position. DO NOT hold your breath, even though you will want to. Being able to breath while contracting the core musculature gets easier and easier with practice. You’ll probably start shaking. That’s okay. Hold your head in a neutral position, that is eyes facing down to the floor. You don’t need extra neck strain while doing this.
Hold this position statically (isometrically) as long as you can. Time it with a watch placed on the floor for ease.
Progress TIP #3: Go Beyond (when you think you can no longer hold the position count 3 more seconds to progressively overload effectively)
Self Assessment & Making Progress
Whether you start with 5 seconds or 65 seconds DOES NOT MATTER. It is only the baseline from which to measure your progress. Each time you do this exercise aim to match your previous time and add a few more seconds.
Initially if you time less than a minute you can do this exercise daily. Until you can do 30 seconds continuously do the exercise once, lie down and rest for 10 seconds, repeat again, rest once again for 10 seconds, and repeat the exercise a third time. The idea here is to stack the overload on the muscles.
When you can do the exercise for 30 seconds rest for 60 seconds between and do it 2-3 times daily.
Finally when you can exceed 60 seconds continue to do it 2-3 times but with 90 seconds rest between each time (set) and only do it every other day. This will allow sufficient rest between sets and between workouts for recovery.
If this exercise is too difficult initially don’t worry. The abdominals are a weaker point for most people, which is why it is absolutely necessary and why it feels hard early on. There is a step you can do to progress to it. Pivot from your knees instead of your toes. This shortens the lever of your body making it easier on the abs. Follow the same progress as above and when you are ready jump to the regular version and progress as I have outlined.
Periodically replace this exercise with the V-Sit (see the post specific to this exercise) to test yourself and compare with the other Foundational Four exercises.
An early target is 45 seconds. When you can regularly achieve 63 seconds you are doing good. When you can achieve 120 seconds continuously you will have a ROCK SOLID CORE. At this point feel free to add additional core exercises as desired. Most other exercises are advanced and require the strong foundation this provides to maximize their effectiveness and ensure you do not become injured. REMEMBER to continue to keep this as a part of your routine and maintain your times at this level.
Your back will thank you and you’ll be on your way to a 6 pack or the lean core you desire!