Ten Minutes Of Tedium (Plank Routines)

I am thrilled that my physical therapy seems to be working. My longer runs have not caused any set-backs, and I expect to be cleared for even longer runs (8 miles?) this week.

I am a good patient. I do all of my exercises almost every day. I have enjoyed learning new strength moves, being shown the proper form for exercises I thought I knew how to do, and seeing and feeling the progress I was making. But, I am getting sick of doing so many damn planks!

While the trainer added and subtracted different glute and leg exercises to my program, he’s had me doing some variation of planks since day one.  I like my new lunge exercise with a trunk rotation. I don’t mind the airplane pose even though I almost fall over after a few reps. I will push through the fitball pike exercises. But I am just plain bored with planks. Last week after I snoozed through my workout time because I just didn’t want to do them, I knew I needed an attitude adjustment.

In my current program, the planks take me about 10 minutes. While they are 10 tedious minutes, they are only 10 minutes. I can get through 10 minutes a day in order to get strong for my fall races.

Army Ten Miler

(October 21)

(November 10)

With all my whining about my planks, friends have been asking about my routine. These are the three main plank routines that the trainer has had me do.  I did each progression for 1-2 weeks and then moved on to the next one. For the front planks, put your knees down between reps.  For the side planks, put your hips down between reps. Proper form is very important–you want to engage your core and your lower back. I’m also outlining the warm-up, which actually feels good to do at the beginning and end of my workouts, and at the beginning and end of my day.

Warm-Up (10 reps each, 1 set)
Cat-cow sequence
Sidewsie cat-cow sequence
     (on all fours with flat back, rotate back into forward/backward “C”)
On back with knees bent, feet flat on floor, rotate hips so knees touch floor on each side

First Plank Progression (8 second hold for each rep, 3 sets)
Front planks on elbows (6 reps)
Side planks on elbow with both feet on floor, top leg in front (not stacked) (6 reps/side)

Second Plank Progression (8 second hold for each rep, 3 sets)
Front planks on elbows (6 reps)
Side planks on elbow with feet slightly elevated (such as on a yoga block) (6 reps/side)

Third Plank Progression (3 sets) 
Front planks on elbows holding one foot slightly elevated (6 reps/side, 8 sec hold)
Side planks on elbow with upper body rotation to face floor (15 reps/side, no hold)

I use the stopwatch function on my iPhone or iPod nano to keep track of the time. It keeps me from cheating on the 8 second hold and gives me something to focus on. When I first started out, I took about 15 seconds per rep (8-10 sec hold, a few sec pause in between), but I trimmed that to about 10 seconds per rep (8 sec hold, a brief pause in between).

For those of you who hold your planks for 1-2 minutes, I’d love to know if you find this approach (multiple short reps) easier or harder.

What is your least favorite exercise that you do anyway?

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16 Responses to Ten Minutes Of Tedium (Plank Routines)

  1. Miz says:

    Im super opinionated here :)
    Im NOT a fan of the "I CAN HOLD A PLANK SOOOO LONG" competition which is all the rage on the internet.
    Shorter. Good and proper form. IMO always better.

  2. misszippy1 says:

    Never tried the shorter version of planks but now you have me intrigued to give it a go! I had an ITB injury a couple of years ago–worse injury of my life. Glad you are getting over yours.

    Looks like you are nearby–I'm in Howard County, Md.

  3. I have always held my planks, but think I need to try the shorter version. Sounds like it would shock things up a bit. Glad your feeling better!

  4. I'm loving your plank progression. Great versions and variations. Keeps the plank interesting. Keep up the good work!

  5. Thank you! I'm so glad you explained about where to put your feet on a side plank. I was never sure about that and found myself fidgeting. I also agree with MizFit as usual – short bursts, proper form – probably better than outlasting everyone on the internet :-)

    Thanks again! I was reminded today of my poor core strength when I'm sore from a yoga class yesterday – so sore it hurts to laugh. Must. Do. More. Core. Work.

  6. Coco says:

    There is probably a challenging medium between the 8 second hold and the plankathon approach. Today I did 10 second holds on the front planks and felt more challenged. It is important to mix it up when I'm doing plankeverydamnday! :-)

  7. Wendy says:

    thanks for the interesting discussion topic.
    as a trainer, i am a fan of shorter planks done for reps – perhaps 10s x 6 so that the volume is still one minute. short duration elbow planks can be cued to be extremely challenging. as a kettlebell trainer, i appreciate the work on planks that pavel tsatsouline has done. check out the rkc plank here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6TKktamzq4o
    i have had the very good fortune to take training with dr. stuart mcgill. if you are unfamiliar with his work, this interview may be of interest: http://www.sportsrehabexpert.com/public/195.cfm persist through the interview, he has valuable scholarly info and knowledge on the topic at hand.
    sounds like you have a great trainer and that your trainer has a motivated client.
    plank on!

  8. I use my iPhone too to time my planks, but I don't stare at the timer while holding it.. I look at the floor, which is boring. I usually have the TV on for audio entertainment, but, I agree, planks are a bore.

  9. I much prefer shorter plan reps vs. hold a plank forever approach! This is a great plank progression – thanks for sharing!

  10. David H. says:

    I keep forgetting you're doing the Richmond Half. All kidding aside that we do, I'm looking forward to catching up. Wish I could offer you a place to stay, but we're crammed.

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