Planks as a Program: The Long Beach Perform Better “Notes”
In my book, Intervention, I explained how my athletes begin with the basic human movements with simple patterns that usually are best learned as Planks. Since that time, I have introduced “Planks as a Program,” a way to learn and master the basic human movements without really much movement at all.
Pull Bat Wing Planks
Hinge Pelvic Tilt/Hip Thrust
Squat Goblet Squat
Loaded Carries Suitcase Walk
PUPPs are the “Push Up Position Plank” and those of us who train both women and untrained and detrained men have found this to be an ideal way to build up the isometric push and establish a degree of rotary stability. Rotary Stability is simply your body’s means of stiffening up and stopping twists and turning…a good thing in a collision.
Since meeting Chip Conrad, I have added a few hints to PUPPs and all other plank variations. First, following the tradition set up by Pavel, I like the legs and feet together and squeezing in. Slide some paper between the knees and don’t let it go. Chip advises to “squeeze the Troll’s heads that are inside your armpit.” Personally, this single clue has done for my coaching than anything else in the last year or so. As you do that, make sure the whole pad of your palm is on the ground. The index finger pad of the palm often comes up with men with shoulder issues. Twist the hands to get that position: index finger pad of the palm on the ground. Now, hold it.
Bat Wing Planks are a great tool for finding the rhomboids. Lay on your back and prep your body to plank: feet together, knees together. By driving your elbows straight down, try to get your thumbs into your armpits. Lift your whole body, if possible, off the ground save your heels and elbows. Elbows should be deeply bent…like batwings. If this is too difficult, try doing them against a wall or simply doing them with a partner and have them push your elbows towards your front. Hold it.
Pelvic Tilts. So, I am in Canada and a woman raises her hand and insists that I call these “Supine Bridges.” I wanted to explain that in the States “Sue pines on bridges” is the start of a Country and Western song, but I digress. In the 1970s, the aerobic craze did these along with Fire Hydrants, in 1984, Irving Dardik recommended them as a core movement to make your Quantum Leap in training and today these are noted to be a great hip flexor stretch and butt builder.
The Goblet Squat: Grab a dumbbell or kettlebell and hold it against your chest. With a kettlebell, hold the horns, but with a dumbbell just hold it vertical by the one end, like you’re holding a goblet against your chest. Hence the name, “goblet squats.”
Suitcase Carries. Now, generally, I start teaching with Farmer Walks as most of the lessons from FWs come in the first ten seconds. Big chest, shoulders back, head on straight and walk the line are all natural and simple to teach. But, Suitcase Carries have a special place in my evil heart. These literally are walking planks and you will discover your obliques the day after you first learn them. It’s simple: load up something in one hand, keep the other empty and walk as far as you can. Switch hands and come home. Hey, you’re home!
This series of simple moves can be excellent for the Road Warriors who travel every week and find little in the way of training facilities or those detrained athletes who need to “wake up the echoes” or the untrained who are exploring their body for the first time.