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Thread: Confused about planks

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2009

    Confused about planks

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    I don't think I'd ever be able to do planks. My wrists are really weak, and it looks like a *lot* of pressure is being put on the wrist when doing any of the planks that involve hand rather than forearm. Also, what benefit is there to a plank? I've watched Mark's videos on it, but I see no movement; it's all static. Why is this beneficial?

    Help me understand. This makes no sense to me.
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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Cheshire, UK
    Isometric contractions are the quickest way to build strength in a certain position. For the muscles of the abdomen and much of the back, their purpose is not to move you but to hold you still - usually under a load - and protect you from injury. The plank, when done with maximal tension anyway, is a good way to build that isometric strength.

    And forearms is fine.

  3. #3
    I can tell you that my hands go purple if I (attempt to) do press ups... maybe my arteries are plumbed in wrong.... but yeah it does seem awkward/pressured. So I thought about it and can't see any loss of benefits to just doing the forearm version.
    However, it is a very good form of torture for the abs - think of it like weightlifting, all that effort going into holding something steady. Your abs are working to keep you straight, instead of collapsing at the middle and having your belly resting on the floor. I start shaking after only a few seconds!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Fairfax VA
    Griff, forearms and toes are definitely the way-to-go. Have you done them like this? Try holding that position for 90 seconds... your body will be quivering and your core will be sore the next day. Also, like Mr. Fist said, it's all about the isometric contraction building core strength and stability.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    metro Portland
    See this video to see how she does them on her forearms -- no wrists involved.

    This is an excellent core and stability exercise. If for nothing else, having a strong core will prevent back injuries. You've heard about those soft 50-year-old men who bend down to pick up a piece of paper and completely jack their back? That is classic weak core.

    I am thrilled, Griff, that you are even thinking about planks!

    "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food." -- Hippocrates

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    I also do them on my forearms and toes. Even though I cannot hold that position for the full 90 seconds required by PBF, the easier variations don't do anything to my core muscles, they just hurt my arms and wrists, especially after the push-ups and pull-ups. BTW I think it's much better to do planks first, before the push-ups and pull-ups and overhead presses, when my arms still have some strength left in them (and before the squats, when my legs still have some strength left in them, lol).
    Height: 5'4" (1.62 m)
    Starting weight (09/2009): 200 lb (90.6 kg)
    No longer overweight (08/2010): 145 lb (65.6 kg)
    Current weight (01/2012): 127 lb (57.5 kg)

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Knoxville, TN
    Planks are fantastic, and you can really feel them. Doing planks has helped me improve my push-ups too, and vice versa. My job requires me to lift and carry some very heavy things. I wouldn't dare move some of the cables I do if I didn't work on my core.

    Glad you're looking at doing planks Griff. They're certainly worth the effort. My sister is starting out with 30 seconds. It's a lot harder than it looks.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Fairfield, CA
    Another way to make easier on your wrists is perform them on short stool, place your hands so your thumbs are point up. This will take the stress off your wrists until you build up some strength.

    I do 60sec supine (belly up), 60 prone (belly down) on elbows then 45 on each side (oblique). That last 45 is a killer!!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Forearm planks are absolutely worth doing. When I started exercising several years ago, one of my main reasons was because I had chronic low-back aches, sometimes incapacitating me for days. I give credit to the forearm plank for being the #1 thing that "cured" me. You can start small; a few seconds at a time for numerous times throughout the day, and gradually increase your times. Just make sure you're using good form. Sagging can make you feel worse, not better.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    New Zealand
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    also, your wrists will strengthen. i would first get comfortable on forearms, and then do 10-15 seconds on hands (to strengthen wrists) and then the rest on forearms, until you can do it on your wrists for as long as you'd like. you'll be surprised at how strong people's wrists can get.

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