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Planks
Old 10-04-2014, 07:42 PM   #1
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Planks

I've had no back issues for three years now, and I've wondered whether it's due to stretching, planks, or some random change in my body.

A few weeks ago I let up on the planks, and probably hadn't done any for ten days or so. My back also got sore.

I got more conscientious about the planks and the back soreness went away. So, some support for the importance of planks.

Now I try to do side planks on odd days of the month, and front and back on even days. I hold each for one minute, and really hate this exercise.

Another interesting thing is that when you start, you may have trouble holding one for even ten seconds, but after a week or so, you can hold them for over a minute. I see that as an indication that you've made a significant change in your abdominal muscles. BTW, the world record is three hours, seven minutes.



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Old 10-04-2014, 08:10 PM   #2
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I'm a planker. I injured my back about 10 years ago and my chiropractor gave me a bunch of exercises including the plank. I stopped doing them for a while and started having back issues again. Went back to the exercises and didn't need my chiropractor. I've never heard or see the backward plank. I make it harder by alternating balancing on one leg or raising one arm. You don't need any equipment.
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Old 10-04-2014, 08:27 PM   #3
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This may help explain what happens when you stop exercising.

The Exercise Detraining Effect | Berkeley Wellness

In general, exercises for you core muscles is a good thing but none of them are pleasant to do. Plus I would recommend finding a variety of exercises to strengthen your back. Doing only one exercise, seems to me, to be missing other muscles you could and should be strengthening.
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Old 10-05-2014, 12:06 AM   #4
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Timely thread for me. I've had back problems, got into PT almost 2 years ago, and they gave me a range of things to do, including the back and side planks. After about 3 months, I suddenly realized just how much easier everything was. And I was doing great, got to the point where I didn't fear picking something of reasonable weight off the ground, no soreness or 'scary' moments. A real relief. Until I over-did it this spring, and a series of smaller incidents slowed my recovery waaaaay down. I just now can do side planks on my left side, and just barely. It's just been such a strain, I feel as if I will hurt myself again when I do them. I've been doing them from my knees to work back up to it.

Man, I can't wait until I can do the whole group of things again at full power, it helped me so much (but still take it easy with the spring gardening!).

I hate hamstring stretches, but as martyp says, I think you really need a full routine to keep everything in shape and balanced and flexible all around.

-ERD50
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Old 10-05-2014, 12:29 AM   #5
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May I ask the Plankers how long do you hold each position?
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Old 10-05-2014, 06:40 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by razztazz View Post
May I ask the Plankers how long do you hold each position?
I found some site that recommended working up to 1 minute front and 30 seconds each side repeated with a second set. I switched it to a single 2 minute front plank and 45 second side planks and call it a day. When I read a thriller that made a big deal of a 5 minute front plank I did one of those which was hard but not really a big deal. 3 hours? Not in this incarnation. I am curious if others have good information on optimal time. I could gradually extend the time I put in on them but they are boooooring so I hope a couple of minutes is good enough. I sometimes skip the side planks because I am too bored.

I have never done a back plank. I will add those to my routine.
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Old 10-05-2014, 08:42 AM   #7
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I'm not a doctor, but from what I've read (and experienced), muscles all work together and sometimes when one set is acting up it's because other sets of muscles in the body have weakened and no longer provide support. Earlier this year I got rid of some annoying shoulder pain by doing shoulder-strengthening exercises on my TRX. (TRX is a set of resistance bands you can hang over a door or suspend from a firmly-placed pipe.)

Going back a few decades (to the 1960s), my Dad had back problems that the medical profession couldn't solve. They tried everything- cortisone injections and a back brace, for example. Eventually my mother found a book connecting backache with stress and tightened hamstring muscles. Dad could reach about halfway to the floor and that was it, his hamstrings were so tight. He started doing exercises daily. The back pains went away.

I should get back to planking. I hate any exercise that's meant to strengthen the core muscles (they're too much work!) but they're necessary.
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Old 10-05-2014, 10:25 AM   #8
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I found some site that recommended working up to 1 minute front and 30 seconds each side repeated with a second set. I switched it to a single 2 minute front plank and 45 second side planks and call it a day. When I read a thriller that made a big deal of a 5 minute front plank I did one of those which was hard but not really a big deal. 3 hours? Not in this incarnation. I am curious if others have good information on optimal time. I could gradually extend the time I put in on them but they are boooooring so I hope a couple of minutes is good enough. I sometimes skip the side planks because I am too bored.

I have never done a back plank. I will add those to my routine.
Thanks. I'm always afraid I am under-doing things but often I am overdoing it. Especially now that I'm in my 50s. So, a relatively small amount of these isometrics has a big payoff. Good to know.
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Old 10-05-2014, 10:37 AM   #9
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One minute seems like the sweet spot for me, for each different one. Sometimes I'm really shaking when I get to that point. Often I get halfway and think "Only thirty seconds so far, really?"

I suspect that the back plank is important to balance out the muscle improvements from the front plank.
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Old 10-05-2014, 10:42 AM   #10
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I did my back planks for 90 seconds, on my hands, not my elbows. Side planks were harder for me as I have balancing issues, but 45 seconds is my goal for them.

I dislike exercise. I never understand people who tell me "Wow, I just had a great work out at the gym!" But, I like what it does for me - physically, mentally and emotionally. In a way, it is just another exercise (pun intended) in self-denial for a better future. Just like LBYM.
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Old 10-05-2014, 10:43 AM   #11
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Al, the world record is 4 hrs 26 minutes by a Chinese policeman, who, unlike the previous American record holder barely broke a sweat.

I occasionaly check my plank, typically it is over one minute. Figure skating and my other activities seem to maintain core.

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Old 10-06-2014, 10:07 AM   #12
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I do a mental count (one-Mississippi two-Mississippi) and generally hold each position for 60 seconds plus a couple of seconds for good measure. It took a long time to work up to 60 seconds on the side planks, but now they're pretty easy...I hold the upper leg at an angle to my body to make it a little more difficult.

The older one gets, the more exercise one must do to maintain mobility and flexibility. Unfair, but so it goes.

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Old 10-06-2014, 10:18 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by razztazz View Post
Thanks. I'm always afraid I am under-doing things but often I am overdoing it. Especially now that I'm in my 50s. So, a relatively small amount of these isometrics has a big payoff. Good to know.
I thought I was wussing out too until I read Body by Science which fed right into my laziness bias. They argue (with lots of supporting data) that we need a handful of core exercises done one set each, once a week to muscle failure. The muscle failure part is difficult to achieve so I do two sets twice a week and probably never get fully to the optimal level of muscle failure. I am not going to win a slot in a body builder competition but the workout seems quite adequate to maintain the plateau I am on --which is all I want to do.
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Old 10-06-2014, 10:28 AM   #14
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Planks are the real deal. After sciatica and back troubles in 2011, They are a part of my routine now. Haven't tried the ones on your back though. They don't look that tough, but they really work, and with a strong core, everything else gets easier. I usually do one on the front, then one on the side, then one on the other side. At least 3 of each for 30-45 seconds. Keeps the sciatica away!
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Old 10-06-2014, 10:51 AM   #15
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Planks and hollow rocks. I find hollow rock (holds) more difficult, and usually work my way up over 90 seconds for three reps. I like shifting planks (hands to forearms to hands) and I like side planks too. Good offseason core stuff!
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Old 10-06-2014, 11:07 AM   #16
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From my Army days, the pushup position, held with extended arms, for an extended period of time was called the Front Leaning Rest position. Was good for wearing us out while "resting".
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Old 10-06-2014, 11:24 AM   #17
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3 sets of Planks 3-4 times a week about 60 sec each. I like to do them in between other exercises. However the side planks are a bit of a problem since there is some stress on my knees and they don't respond kindly to stress
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Old 10-06-2014, 01:06 PM   #18
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From my Army days, the pushup position, held with extended arms, for an extended period of time was called the Front Leaning Rest position. Was good for wearing us out while "resting".
Best done with a full pack
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Old 10-06-2014, 01:29 PM   #19
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I started back up with the planks last month. At first it was 60 seconds front and 30 seconds each side, and bumped it to 90/45 and will go to 2/1 minute soon. I do mine with a bosu ball. A friend of mine said he just did 9-8-7-...-2-1 push ups with a 30 second plank in between each one, no break between push ups and planks. No big deal on the pushups but the last couple of planks were killer. He's in his 50s too.
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Old 10-06-2014, 03:36 PM   #20
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Wall sits are good for core, also. When I started, I couldn't hold one for even 5 seconds, and have now settled in at 2 minutes. It's funny to watch the young kids start off with me, then peter out after 45-60 seconds while the "old lady" is still calmly propped against the wall.

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