Let's be honest. Planks are great but they can get incredibly boring. If you have a strong core, you need to hold the position for several minutes to get a training effect. It's not the best use of your time.
In my training, I like to integrate the Plank with more complex movements to increase the core challenge and/or strengthen another area of the body. One of the best tools to accomplish this? Rings.
Rings are inherently unstable, which automatically makes exercises more challenging and increases the amount of core activation. Why? Because you have to counteract the instability to maintain control of your body. Rings also are highly adaptable. You can easily adjust the difficulting of an exercise by increasing or decreasing the depth of your angle.
For advanced athletes, the two exercises shown above are great for building a strong core while performing another movement. This is particularly valuable on the field, where you can't constantly focus on keeping your core tight. It makes core engagement almost automatic.
Plate Stack Ring Holds
This exercise is a great way to make a traditional Plank way more challenging. You have to hold the plank position with your feet elevated in the rings, and move the stack of plates from one side to the other. There's a great anti-extension and anti-rotation training component here, which are two critical skills needed by athletes to keep a strong and stable core. Do this one only if you can move the plates without your feet suspended in the rings.
- Grasp a ring with your right hand. Assume a push-up position with a stack of five 5-pound plates next to your left hand.
- Keeping your core tight and your back flat, pick up one plate and place it outside of your left hand.
- Repeat until the stack is gone. Perform a set moving the plates from left to right.
Sets/Reps: 2x5 plates each direction
Single-Arm Extended Ring Push-Ups
Single-Arm Push-Ups are extremely difficult. But they'e effective, because they build balanced strength on each side of your body. And they torch your core. By using a ring, you can make a Single-Leg Arm Push-Up easier by working at an angle. As you get stronger, you can decrease the angle to make it more difficult.
- Grasp a ring with your left hand. Walk back so your body is at about a 45-degree angle, and place your right hand on a bench in front.
- Keeping your core tight and hips square, perform a Single-Arm Push-Up.
- Repeat for the specified number of reps.
Sets/Reps: 2-3x10 each arm
To add additional variety to your core training, check out the two challenging variations of these exercises in the video player above.
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