How's Your Daily Plank Posture?

Good morning…

I may have lost an hour of the day, but I will happily trade that for more daylight later into the evening. Spring forward baby!

Do you have “plank posture?”

I most definitely do not have “plank posture” and yet it has become integral part of both working with runners and my approach to personal training. I will circle back to my hypocrisy but let’s first chat about what plank posture is and unpack it a bit.

Most of us know what a plank is and probably at some point have done them and some have even participated in one of those month-long plank challenges. Planks are a great way to strengthen the core and in partnership with a smart diet, they may help to achieve the 6-pack abs a lot of us desire. Note that planks alone will not get us a 6-pack, our diets and drinking habits play just as an important role in the appearance of our abs.

I fully believe planks are an awesome tool as part of our workout routine and are even a great daily routine. However, while doing a plank is a good thing, I tell our clients that a good plank should be the result of multiple things. If I take a plank challenge void of any other strengthening or neurological change, all I am really doing is learning to maintain the required muscles to succeed for the time the challenge requires. No doubt there would be some improvement to various muscles, but for short periods of time, we can succeed and even improve an exercise, without really improving the actual muscles in a lasting and meaningful way. Basically, it is called “training the brain.”

A successful plank is truly challenging and the success or lack of, can be a great measurement tool for the overall success of our strength training workouts. Instead of training the brain to do a plank, we should be working our core (back and front) and the results should reflect in our ability to maintain a successful plank.

Another important aspect of why planks are important, is our posture. We can do all the important strengthening and successfully hold a plank, but if we go about everyday life without actually using a plank in our posture, we are doing damage to ourselves. Case in point, I am fairly strong in most of my core and thanks to cutting down on the hard apple cider, I have some visible abs. However, during active daily living, my posture is not very good and does not reflect anything like a plank. Good for me for doing the work both in the gym and in my disciplines in consumption, but not so good when it matters. This poor posture does not only look unappealing but can lead to long-term physical problems which can limit the simplest capability to function.

My poor posture is the result of a lazy brain and habits such as sitting a lot. Strengthening my lats has been a focus for me however, engaging them consistently is lacking. Understanding my challenges has led me to train our clients with a much greater focus, not only on strengthening the muscles but re-training the brain. In-order to maintain healthy posture, we need two things; muscles strong enough to maintain and neurological development to repeat it without thinking (muscle memory).

To learn a new activity like a golf swing, it takes 100 swings. I am a golfer and if I want to change something about my current swing, it will take me 5,000 repetitions to make a change to my swing. (Hence why I am still a lousy golfer) When I work with individuals to help them become functionally stronger or even to improve their running form, it all starts with their plank posture. If they do not have good “plank posture” the focus has to be repeatedly on improving the strength and mobility AND the 5,000 times required to change the neurological pattern. With every exercise, I stress the importance of maintaining “plank posture” (squeeze the gluts, pack the shoulder blades and breath). I am relentless and it does not stop with the session. I constantly talk about their daily lives and how I want them to focus on “plank form” as they stand, sit etc.… 5000 times!

I am working at my plank posture and it is not easy! Change is never easy, but in many instances it is important!

Went long again! Hope you found some of the chat helpful.

Have a great day and enjoy the extra daylight!

God Bless!