Get in Game Shape

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Planks for Crunching

Hey hitters,
If you want to hit the ball harder and farther, keep reading!

It’s a well know fact, inside the Strength & Conditioning field, that the crunch is dead. Extensive testing and case studies have been done and it’s been determined that laying on your back and flexing your spine to do a “crunch” is just not recommended anymore.

O.K., we’ve all done tons of crunches. I’ve even had clients do them, until now. Studies show us there is a better way, but what do we do?

Have no fear; the planks (and several variations) are here! The plank is a very basic looking exercise that requires no movement and places no stress on your spine. Don’t be fooled by its easy looks, it’s a killer! Doing planks will add much needed stabilization to your core, leading to more bat speed

Below is an example of the basic plank position.

The plank is a great replacement exercise for the crunch. Set up and execution are pretty easy. As seen above, place forearms on floor, and place feet and legs into push up position. The goal is to hold steady and keep square to the floor (no twisting).

Again, don’t dismiss this exercise as easy. If you have never attempted a plank before, try holding for 15-20 seconds and do 2-3 sets. If you are more advanced, try holding for 45-60 seconds. Once you manage 60 seconds for 3 sets, try advancing the difficulty by placing your arms on a Swiss Ball. Placing your arms on a ball will add the element of instability, making your core work harder to stabilize your body.

The plank can also be done one-side at a time, as seen below.

Ask anyone who has done a side plank and they will tell you it’s harder than the front plank! Side plank set up and execution are simple as well. Place forearm on floor and make sure elbow is under your shoulder. Place one leg on top of the other and raise hips. Again, a simple looking move, but very effective.

Try adding some side planks to your routine. As mentioned before, there are several variations of the plank.

My personal favorite “AB” exercise is the stability ball roll out. You are essentially rolling into a modified plank position. Here is the roll out.The set up for the roll out is simple.

Kneel on a mat, or soft floor, and place hands on stability ball. This is the start and finish position. Slowly and under control, roll out onto the ball.

There are several variations of the roll out as well, so only go as far as you can, comfortably. Once you roll out, try to pull yourself back to the finish position, keeping your hips and shoulders in line.

I recommend mastering the front and side planks before you attempt the roll out.The plank (and its variations) will strengthen your core and save your spine from unnecessary flexion.

Try adding planks into your routine, and scrap those traditional crunches from the floor.

Oh yeah, if you don’t think you can get a “six pack,” doing planks think again!

Brandon Smith C.S.C.S

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