CLASSIC & SWISS BALL PLANKS Sara Angle, in “The Forearm Plank Exercise Is the Core Move You Shouldn’t Skip”, explains why the classic plank, with the upper body resting on and held up by the forearms, and hips/legs held up by the balls of the feet is such a good basic exercise. Angle’s article for SHAPE.com includes a description of how to properly perform it as well as a video demonstration.
The piece references a May 2011 scientific poster presentation abstract (a formal full article was not published). The abstract results reported that “activation of the abdominal and lumbar muscles was greatest during the exercises that required activation of the deltoid and gluteal muscles”. The example provided was of the forearm plank variations that “required over two times the average activity of the rectus abdominus, external abdominal oblique, and lumbar erector spinae compared to traditional trunk flexion and extension exercise”.
[Acefitness.org provides images which show these muscle groups if you're not familiar with core muscle anatomy.]
For those who find their wrists cannot accommodate the necessary prone movements and loading while performing floor exercises on a mat, a forearm plank on a Swiss ball might be less stressful and thus somewhat ‘easier’. Elizabeth Quinn provides discussion and an image that demonstrates the move in a piece for Verywellfit.com, “How to Perform a Swiss Ball Forearm Plank”.
To qualify this statement about ball planks being ‘easier’, the wrists will be spared on the ball but the overall abdominal muscle work will be increased.
I like the Swiss ball variation. For the sake of time, it’s is simpler to increase the difficulty and keep the duration of the plank hold the same but on the ball. For a really strenuous session, add movement. Purposely wiggle the ball from side to side. OUCH. It feels so good.
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EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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