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Functional Strength

Strength Training; over 50

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Strength Training; over 50

It’s never too late to begin strength training. Start this week, and see the following benefits begin to improve your daily living within a very short period of time. Little and often, can be the key to becoming the youngest, most energized version of yourself.

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Day 6/30: Push Ups, for Speed and Power

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Day 6/30: Push Ups, for Speed and Power

Some of you will enjoy this one. Again choose the toughest version of Push Up that you will maintain good form with. Good form includes full range of movement. Aim for those 90 degree elbow bends and horizontal upper arms, or as close to it as your mobility allows. Today's challenge will need you to be mindful of your full range of movement.  Warm up well. Its always a good idea to use arm swings, dynamic stretching and lighter versions of your work as the warm up.

The common theme of our 30 Day Challenge is QUALITY, so I will mention how important it is again. Very Important. The most important thing. To the point that if you do a poor rep, I would encourage you not to count it and do it again.

Today's Challenge

Alex Tormos shows us how what speed and power look like when combined with perfect form. Alex' stamina and endurance here is most impressive. Today's goal is to find out how many seconds and reps we can perform like this before failure. Once we know it, we can work on crushing it.


  • Start timer.
  • Do as many Push Ups, as fast as you can before form and speed fail.
  • Stop the timer and record the reps and the time.
  • Take at least a 5 minute break. (or come back to it later today or when ever it suits)
  • Repeat this until you have totaled 100 Push Ups
  • Share your totals with the group if you like.

Do not aim to do this in the fewest rounds possible. Today's mission, and win is Speed and Power. Once it fades, stop and rest.

Unlike Day 2's challenge, strategic rests have no part to play here. It is 100% max until you simple cant keep pace. Then stop. Don't force another rep if it cannot be done with speed and power.

To all my regular circuit training crew.... you will get a chance to have this challenge wrapped up by end of our 9:15am Circuit class.

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Damien Roche Fitness 30 Day Plank & Push UP Challenge

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Damien Roche Fitness 30 Day Plank & Push UP Challenge

Day 1/30: Intro to Planks

What is a plank?  

The plank is a strengthening exercise that uses the abdominal muscles to hold the body in a face down bridge position, while maintaining a flat back.

Why do a plank?

It is a very simple exercise, and has a real worthwhile return on investment. There are not many exercises that can give you the same benefits per time invested.  The nature of the plank allows most people to be able to work at it everyday. Of course you will need to listen to your own body and take extra recovery time if needed.  The benefits of performing regular planks are extensive and we will go into these in more detail as this 30 day challenge goes on.  An abbreviated list includes:

  • Increased functional core strength.
  • Reduced back pain.
  • Postural Improvements.
  • Better Balance. 

Strength gains in the plank directly translate to improvements across a wide spectrum of other exercises from Push Ups to overhead presses.  Having a strong connection between hips and shoulders allows for more efficient movements and power transfer to the limbs, reduced risk of injury and pain, especially involving the lower back. It doesn't hurt to know that a stronger corset of core muscles can help drop a belt size or two just from holding everything where it should be. Weaker corsets can be pushed out by intestinal pressures increasing girth and bringing with it a host of potential health concerns and chronic back pain. 

How do you perform a plank ?

Lie flat on your stomach, place forearms on ground with elbows directly under shoulders, raise body off ground and maintain a straight back, head in line with spine and eyes focused on a point on the ground just in front of your hands. 

The fine points.... How to really get it right. 

Join hands together and press gently into the ground to spread the load away from elbows. Engage your lats by pulling your shoulders toward your hips. Tighten the abdominal and core muscles. Engage the muscles you feel contracting each time you cough. A cruder but far more effective explanation....  try cutting of your urine mid flow..... these are the muscles you want engaged while you plank, for the entire duration of the plank.  Once these muscles fatigue and fail, your plank is over. Do not allow other body parts, especially the lower back, to pick up the slack. It is this group of muscles that we are trying to strengthen over the next 30 days.

Common Faults

Looking up, causes excess curvature of the spine, pinching lumber vertebra and pushing hips towards floor. Fix this by keeping your eyes focused in a set point near hands. 

Head too high   

Head too high   

Chin down, in neutral position, head in line with spine allowing for the best activation of the abdominals, and glutes, providing best support for the back. 

Head, Neck & Spine in line.  

Head, Neck & Spine in line.  

Dropping chin low creates tension between shoulder blades and hips to rise, making the plank feel easier initially, but making it a far less effective. position for strength gains

Head too low. 

Head too low. 

Other common mistakes:  

Holding breathe or shallow breathing near the end. Even with perfect body alignment, it is possible that the the corset muscles could relax. When this happens the hips slowly drop but the lower back muscles take over and are used to keep hips in line.  At this point you are no longer holding your plank, so tighten up or drop. Increases in your timed plank are worthless and possibly dangerous if not done correctly.  

 

So let's get started... Day 1 

Forearm Plank (as described above) For Time.  

Simply hold good form for as long as possible.

Aim for quality time.

Quality is the win today!.

Share your stopwatch screen shot and experience in the comments below. You may never know just who you are inspiring.

 

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Shin Splints: all you need to know.

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Shin Splints: all you need to know.

What are Shin Splints? 

Media Tibial Stress Syndrome if you want to impress your doctor with your self diagnosis. Or simply pain in the lower leg, typically front or toward the inside of the shin. This pain is often caused by tiny micro tears in the muscles surrounding the shin bone, or Tibia. 

 

What causes Shin Splints? 

Often associated with running, Shin Splints are more often than not caused by increasing the mileage too fast, and not giving the legs time to adapt to this new pounding exercise. 

Another common cause is over pronating (rolling) the foot. This can be due to your own biomechanics or by the terrain you choose to run on.  If you have no choice but to run on roads, then try to avoid the edges that slope downward from the centerline of the road. This also applies to beaches with steep drop offs toward the water. The flatter the surface from side to side, the better. 

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  If your feet are landing on a surface that slopes sideways it will cause you to roll your foot more than it is used to.  Continue this for some distance and you are inviting trouble. On quieter roads, if possible, run along the flatter centerline until you are forced to move over for traffic. (not advisable if you can't run without your headphones!). If the roads are too busy for this then switch sides often to balance out the sloping edges before any one side becomes too stressed. 

Running is one of the cheapest entry level sports out there.  You do not need much equipment to do it and most people already have everything they need before they decide to try it. Even so, it is worth investing in a good pair of footwear.  Old, dead soles are the next biggest cause of Shin Splints so it's worth it if you replace them regularly. Most studies show that the most expensive pairs do not equate to better performance or reduced injury rates. Find a pair that works for you, and replace them often. The more you use them the more often you should replace them. The harsher the surface you train on, the more often you should replace them.

 

What are the Symptoms?  

  •  Tightness in shin, can fade or become an aching pain as exercise continues.   
  • Shins can be painful to touch.  
  • Pain is often in lower 2 thirds of shin or Tibia, and can often extend right down toward inner ankle.   
  • In mild cases, pain and discomfort fade as inflammation subsides, after training. If early symptoms are ignored and training persists, severity of the pain can occur and in this case may not fade after training is finished.  
  • Some redness, swelling and puffiness may occur along the shin bone.  
  • If continually ignored and not given adequate recovery or treatment, shin splints may become Stress Fractures.   

How do you treat them?  

Avoiding them in the first place is always the best option. Failing that, pay attention to the early warning signs, reduce the amount of stresses you place on the legs and increase recovery times between training. Unlike most other overuse or repetitive strain injuries, the muscles of the shins are very difficult to rest adequately once injured. Ignoring the early signs and pushing through the pain is not recommended.   

For new and enthusiastic runners, refrain from increasing your weekly mileage by more than 10%. Take extra recovery days at first signs of pain.

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 Also be mindful of the type of surface you are training on: avoid running on concrete at all costs. Asphalt is far better an option over concrete and even asphalt is harsh on both your shins and your sneakers lifespan. Sandy wood trails are one of the best surfaces for running and it is this that they try to replicate with AstroTurf and running tracks so choose these if you don't have stretches of sandy woods to run through  

Short term treatment would include rest, ice, compression, elevation and massage.  A more long term solution is to strengthen the muscles of the  legs, including the calf muscles, quads and glutes. Include regular stretching to the training plan, and if you have a long stride with your foot striking the ground out in front of your knee, consider speeding up your foot turnover rate by shortening your stride. ( added bonus of saving energy which translates directly to improved endurance, and in most cases will result in a faster pace for similar exertion!) 

If prone to recurring episodes of Shin pain, even after adding strength and conditioning to your training, then the cause may be more complicated, possibly down to biomechanics of foot and lower leg, causing over probation of the foot while running/training.  If this is the case it is always a good idea to get a specialist to check it out and advise corrective treatments such as orthotics or particular training sneakers. 

Comment below with any questions or useful tips you may have. 

Or drop in to #DamienRocheFitness for more tips and strength and conditioning advice. 

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A Simone Special Superset.

If you are missing your fav class tonight, why not try this workout. You can do this almost anywhere, with minimal equipment. 

Grab a friend and share the experience.  

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Superset Format 

40sec : 40sec : 15sec rest.

3 times.

60-90sec rest/dynamic stretch

Then move on to next superset pair. 

As with any workout, take the time to warm up properly and stretch according to your body's needs.  

Hydrate before during and after.  

Adjust rest times if needed, but note these changes do you can see your improvements next time  

1) High knees / Body saws

Suggestion: use Paper plates or a towel on a wood or tiled floor instead of Gliders  

2) Low jacks / Band bicep curls 

3) Push ups / Speed squats

4) Alternating Lunges / Mountain climbers 

5) Burpees /  3 point plank

 

Enjoy

💪😉👍

For extra accountability and to compare this workout with the same 4 weeks from now, draw out a record sheet and note your reps.  Share your proudest achievements in the comments below.  Next time you try this you will have numbers to crush. 

#DamienRocheFitness 

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Concept 2 Core Workout: Brief but Brutal.

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Concept 2 Core Workout: Brief but Brutal.

For Time:

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- 500m Row

- 50 Plank Rows

  (25 pair, no tilting!)

- 50 Over Head Press Sit Ups

This one is inspired from one of our Concept 2 Workouts of the Week. (Week #6) Shortened to a single round instead of 5 rounds, and choosing far heavier weights, that animal becomes a very different animal.  The key here is to choose the heaviest weights that you can maintain good form and just about make the full reps.

Going against the clock is what takes this one to the next level.  

 

Record your time . From start of first row until the full completion of the 50th Sit Up. Do not stop the clock for any rest time you may take.

 

Revisit this one on a regular basis and aim to get a Personal Best each time.  

In the comments below, record your time and the weights you used for both the Plank Rows and Sit Ups.

Have Fun.

 

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Senior Fitness: Are these exercises right for you ?

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Senior Fitness: Are these exercises right for you ?

This is a good read if you are interested in looking for info on seniors beginning to exercise.

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As with all ages and fitness levels, it is worth noting that it's often more a case of individuals having restrictions than any one exercise being 'bad' for everyone.

 

We get to work often with seniors of all fitness levels, from post op and physical therapy graduates to more than a few that inspire and motivate everyone in the classes, including our instructors,  to keep active and keep young in heart body and soul. 

 

Everyone has their own entry level. If you have any concerns, about where that entry point may be or if there's a valid reason for avoiding certain exercises the best place to start is with a conversation with an experienced trainer who can offer advice, modifications and peace of mind as you commit to being as young as possible for as long as possible.

Click here to read article.

 

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12 DAYS OF DAMIEN ROCHE CHRISTMAS: THE 7TH DAY

THE WORKOUT
The seventh day of The Damien Roche Christmas Workouts looks like this, a three part workout.

Part 1

1) 30 Jump Jacks

2) 25 Squat Hold, Punches (pairs) 

3) 20 Plank Jacks

4) 15 Alternating Lunges (pairs) 

5) 10 Push Ups

6) 5 Burpees

7) 10 Squat Jumps

8) 15 Bicycle crunch (pairs)

9) 20 High Knee running ( pairs ) 

10) 25 Squats

11) 30 Mountain Climber (Pairs)

 

Merry Christmas, Everyone

Merry Christmas, Everyone

Part 2

FIVEs AMRAP

5 Squats

5 Push Ups

5 Crunches

for 5 minutes.

 Part 3

Repeat Part 2, only beat your time.   

WHAT DO I DO ?

After your warm up and stretching, start a timer and race through these exercises.
As soon as you finish your last rep of the 2nd round stop the timer and record your result.

Rest as needed but do not stop the clock until you are finished. Your result will include any rest time taken.

Take 2 min active recovery/rest before starting part 2.

Part 2 : Set your timer for 5 minutes. You aim is to repeat 5 of each exercise in sequence and repeat as often as possible in the 5 mins.

Note your round and the exercise rep you finished on when the time runs out, as you can use this as a mark of your current fitness. Repeat in 4 - 6 weeks and crush this today's result.

Take 2 min active recovery.

 

Part 3:

Repeat Part 1 again, with the goal of matching or beating the 1st time.

Record your time.

 

Post your times in comments below, add some of your own photos or screen shots if you like.

Enjoy.

💪⛄️👍

 

 

DESCRIPTION OF NEW EXERCISES:

Squat Hold, punches  

Hold a seated position, as low as you can, while keeping feet planted flat. Aim to get thighs at least level with floor.   Once in position, quickly reach in front as far as possible with one hand. Do not lock your elbow. Always stop just short of a full elbow lock. Quickly pull your elbow back while you send out your other hand. Repeat  , as fast as possible until your reps are done. A pair is one rep. If you have trouble holding a controlled squat, do a wall squat. ( sit against a wall, bank flat against it, hips a little higher then knees, knees directly over heels, feet planted flat and about shoulder width apart)

 

Bicycle crunch (pairs)

Lie on your back, finger tips touch temples, pull left knee in towards chest while sending right  foot out long and about 6" from the floor, roll right shoulder off the floor towards your left knee, then slowly switch sides, rolling both shoulders flat to the floor before raising the left shoulder to meet the right knee. That's one pair.  

 

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12 Days of Damien Roche Christmas Workouts: 3rd Day

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12 Days of Damien Roche Christmas Workouts: 3rd Day

The countdown continues.  

12 Days.  

12 Workouts.

3rd Day

Commit to these short but effective workouts and begin to feel and see results in just 12 Days.

The Workout

The third day of The Damien Roche Christmas Workouts looks like this:  

1) 40 Jump Jacks

2) 35 Squats

3) 30 Crunches

4) 25 pair Ladder Climbs

5) 20 alternating Lunges

6) 15 Push ups

7) 14 Mountain Climbers (pair)

8) 13 Russian Twists (pair)

9) 12 Plank Jacks / or 12 pair of foot lifts

10) 11 High Knees (Pair)

11) 10 burpees /or inchworms

What do I do ? 

After your warm up and stretching, start a timer and race through these exercises....

Twice...

As soon as you finish your last rep of the 2nd round stop the timer and record your result.

Rest as needed but do not stop the clock until you are finished. Your result will include any rest time taken. 

Post your times in comments below, add some of your own photos or screen shots if you like.

Enjoy. 

💪⛄️👍

 

As always.... you know your own body. Stretch, hydrate and challenge yourself accordingly. 

 

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Is Exercise a good idea for seniors? (part I)

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Is Exercise a good idea for seniors? (part I)

With more and more people living longer active and healthier lives, we are seeing an increasing awareness of the benefits of exercise for over 65s. Regular activity and exercising in social group settings may just be the fountain of youth that we need to stay younger, slow down and even reverse the effects of aging on our bodies and mind. Short and light workouts, often each week can have remarkable side effects, including...

  • Increased energy levels throughout the day.
  • Improved sleep quality and duration.
  • Functional strength gains for daily living.
  • Increased endurance for sustained activities from yard work to traveling.
  • Reduced stress.
  • Weight loss
  • Ease the symptoms and even reverse the effects of long term illnesses such as Diabetes, Heart Disease, High Blood Pressure, and even some forms of Arthritis.
  • Improve memory.
  • Improve moods.
  • Improved balance and coordination
  • Reduced risk of falling due to improved balance, reaction and coordination.
  • Improved chances of coming away from a fall injury free or with less serious complications.

This list can go on and on so basically exercising can make you feel great and offer you a more independent lifestyle for longer. It can also be fun, especially if you exercise with some like minded friends or as part of a class such as SilverSneakers®.

I have never exercised before. Is it too late to start now?

Absolutely not.

There are very few people over the age of 65 that would not benefit from some form of increased activity, even those with chronic disease. The key is to find the right activity and the right intensity. It is always advisable to get your doctors clearance and to ask for advice or take a class with a certified experienced trainer. Choosing to begin is always a tough decision. It can be discouraging having limitations set by an illness or finding yourself gasping for breath after moving from couch to kitchen or up the stairs. When we do not know where to begin it is easier convince ourselves that it is probably not the best idea for me at this time.

So where do I begin?

A good place to start is to find some comfortable clothing to wear. It doesn't need to be expensive or sports wear but it should be easy to move in, non restricting and not get too warm midway through exercise. Layers are a great way of maintaining comfort, zipping down and peeling off as the warm up moves into main workout and then putting them back on for the cool down and post workout. Footwear is perhaps the most important item required. They should fit correctly and offer good support, and cushioning. Comfort is important, as is a snug fit so the foot is not sliding around inside, and not too tight at any point, both of which will result in blisters.

Next is to choose exercises appropriate to your fitness and activity levels. Exercise is an increased workload on the body. If this work load is increased gradually, the body responds by adapting, getting stronger and better able to perform that workload. Once the work becomes easier it is time to challenge the muscles with another increase in the workload. If you are currently inactive this workload may be repeating a slow sit down in to a chair, or taking a stairs instead of an escalator, gradually increasing the distance that you park your car from where you need to go. If you are currently active you will need to do more to find a challenge.  Walking is a great exercise for all levels. Choose a distance and terrain that makes breathing a little faster and conversation a little more difficult.  High intensity exercise is not necessary, nor recommended, to get most of the health benefits of exercising.

 

An inspiring and fun group at Wednesday morning  SilverSneakers ® class.

An inspiring and fun group at Wednesday morning SilverSneakers® class.

Click here to see if you or a loved one is eligible for FREE membership at Damien Roche Fitness Center. Over 12 million people nationwide qualify for FREE gym memberships. We are 1 of 13,000 participating facilities across the country which provide gym membership through some health insurances.  If you are eligible, you can probably also find a location near your vacation destinations or seasonal homes.

In Part II...

What other exercises can I do?

Should I call my Doctor ?

SilverSneakers explained in more detail and

Exercise and the elderly myths explained.

 

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Snow Delay Home Workout

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Snow Delay Home Workout

AMRAP

Here's a fast workout for you to try at home. It's can also be used as a measure of your fitness. Repeat it  to beat it as your fitness increases.

AMRAP : As Many Rounds As Possible 

 

 

A.M.R.A.P. 

A.M.R.A.P. 

Go through all these exercises as listed and repeat the whole set as often as possible in ten minutes.  

As always, warm up well and stretch afterwards. modify exercises as needed. ( let is know below in the comments if you did so others can get ideas of what substitutions to make.) Listen to your body and have fun.  Let us kow how you do.  

If you want to do more than this, take a small rest and continue with this next phase.  

Supersets

Pair up the following exercises and repeat the pairs before moving to the next pair.  

  1. Ladder Climbers
  2. Tall Plank with foot lifts

 

  1. Full Body Extensions  
  2. Squat hold

 

  1. Burpees  
  2. Plank with shoulder taps  

Try 30 sec or 40 sec each exercise. 

Take no break between pairs.  

Take 15 sec break between repeats of the set.  

Take a longer break before starting the next superset pair.  

Repeat each pair twice or 3 times before moving on to next pair.  

 

Have fun.  

Let us know how you do in the comments below . 

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Snow Day Tabata plus

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Snow Day Tabata plus

Let's not allow this weather to get in the way of our training. Here is a body weight workout that you can do anywhere. 

Phase 1 follows Tabata format (20:10) This means 20 seconds as intense as you can make it, followed by 10 seconds of active rest. Repeat this 8 times, making it 4 minutes of rounds.  

Take 1 minute for active recovery before beginning the next exercise.

Hydrate as you go and make sure you warm up using lighter versions of the moves you will be doing in these exercises. Use dynamic stretching to further protect you from injury.  

Body weight / do anywhere Workout

Body weight / do anywhere Workout

#ItsOnly20Minutes

Phase 1 will take 20 mins.  Modify any exercise you need to, add more rest time between exercises if you need to. Challenge yourself but you know your body and so push back but respect it's limits. Record your reps each round and try to beat them.  Record the numbers so in a month you can destroy today's scores.  

Phase 2 is for anyone who is now into it and want to keep going.  Take a minimal break after the Tabata and get started on Phase 2 as soon as you can.  

Cool down and stretch once you are finished. Having a healthy prepared snack ready to go for when you are finished will speed up muscle recovery times.  

Phase 1

 

  1. Push-ups 
  2. Squats  
  3. Plank Jacks
  4. Burpees

Phase 2 

    2 Minute Plank
    40 Mountain Climbers  
    50 Jumping Jacks  
    40 Alternating Lunges  
    2 Min Wall Squat

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The Plank: day 26/30 Two points of contact

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The Plank: day 26/30 Two points of contact

This plank is a real challenge but it's a complement to everyone who has stayed the course the last 4 weeks (almost!). To be able to hold a two point position with any measure of control is extremely tough, and complicated from a nervous system point of view. The fact that you guys won't find it as impossible is a tribute to your consistancy and to the fact that ye are more in tune with your body than the average person. So you are winning already 😃👍

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Today we are going to begin in forearm plank. Without tilting remove one arm from the ground. Head position will be key for not tilting. 

You can raise your elbow out to the side or up towards ear.  

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Once you feel stable, lift the opposite foot a couple inches of the ground. So left arm and right foot or right arm and left foot. Hold for 3-5 sec before retuning both back to the floor.  Keeping core right, and not tilting, repeat with other sides. 

Take a few minutes to dial this in.  As you find your balance points the goal is to raise and lower both foot and hand at same time. 

Level 1: 

Aim to attain 5 pairs of two point planks, 3-5 sec holds in two point position,  with controlled deliberated raises and drops. Break as often and for as long as you need  

Level 2:  

Aim for 10 pairs, but only break once. You can hold the regular plank between transitions as long as you need before continuing. But only drop once to rest fully.  

Level 3: 

10 pairs, hold position for 10 sec once up.  Minimal time at regular plank between switches. 

Level 4:  

20 pairs, with 10 sec holds  

Level 5

20 sec holds, minimal time in regular plank for transitions... As many pairs as possible without dropping.  

Let me know how many you get.  

Wuality plank is the most basic reason we are doing this so don't rush and aim for higher reps than you can perform well. Get a true number of where you are right now so you can compare it in the future. 

Slow deliberate transitions are part if this challenge.  Don't fall out of a position. No tilting.  25 days in and the tilt should be easily controlled for at least a few reps now.  

 

 

 

 

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The Plank: Day 21/30, Plank Rows

Today's Plank involves the use of a light dumbell.  ( a heavy book or large bottle of water could work too, .... Even a handy sized rock if your doing this outdoors!)  

Tall plank, weight below head.  

Tall plank, weight below head.  

Begin in tall plank position, with the wight between hands.  Lift one hand off the ground without tilting and pick up the weight. Lift the weight up, slowly, by pulling your elbow back towards your hip, so upper arm is right up against the side of your chest.  Continue to pull the elbow up higher as far as you can, without tilting your torso. Pause briefly at the top of your range of movement and then slowly lower the weight back to it's starting point beneath your face.  Place that hand back in the floor and repeat with your other arm. Do this with out tilting your torso on the switch over. 

No Tilting of torso.  

No Tilting of torso.  

Slowly return weight to floor and gently replace hand on floor.  Hold on to the weight for your total reps if staying on one side for multiple reps. Do not let weight touch floor ibtol it's time to switch sides. 

Slowly return weight to floor and gently replace hand on floor.  Hold on to the weight for your total reps if staying on one side for multiple reps. Do not let weight touch floor ibtol it's time to switch sides. 

Repeat with other side.  

Repeat with other side.  

Tip: Don't get too ambitious with the size of the weight today.  If you dial in this movement with perfect form using a light weight, you will find you can lift heavier weights with great form far sooner than if you begin too heavy.  For this reason, you do not need to state the size of the weight you choose to use today. Just pick something light but challenging.  

 

Refer back to Day 4 for the basics.  

http://www.damienrochefitness.com/blog/2015/6/24/the-plank-430-tall-plank-3-points-of-contact

Level 1: 

5 Rows with right, switch sides without tilting, repeat 5 rows.  Drop to knees to break briefly and repeat 5 times. Dial in the basic tall plank at the beginning of each round and try to maintain it throughout the exercise. 

Level 2

5 pairs of Alternating Rows,  switching sides after each row. Stop and take a break after 5 pairs.  Repeat 5 times. 

Level 3:  

Alternating Rows, for 30 sec x 4 times. Take as long a break as you feel you need I order to get through the next round with perfect form. 

Level 4:  

Alternating Rows x 60 sec, x 3 times. 

 

 

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The Plank: Day 20/30, Plank Jacks

Revisit Day 17.   

http://www.damienrochefitness.com/blog/2015/7/8/the-plank-day-1730-plank-jacks

If the basics are easier, today we are going to aim for rounds of 40 seconds. Hold form for full time or break earlier. 

Level 1:  

Choose any level from Day 17, 

or  

3 x 40 sec rounds, rest as needed between. 

Level 2: 

3 x 40 sec rounds, rest 20 sec between. 

Level 3:  

3 x 40 sec Plank jacks followed immediately with 40 sec jogging on the spot, followed by 20 sec rest between. 

So 40:40:20 x 3  

 

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The Plank: Day 16/30, Side Plank Rotations.

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The Plank: Day 16/30, Side Plank Rotations.

Begin in forearm plank. I like to position my arms so fists are close to elbows for this one.  

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Slowly take the weight of one forearm, without tilting, rotate to one side so shoulders and elbows are stacked on top of each other. Control and quality is vital so only rotate as far as you can maintain a solid plank.

Aim to stack shoulders and elbows above each other.  

Aim to stack shoulders and elbows above each other.  

Slowly return to starting position  

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And repeat to other side.  

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Hips and shoulders rotate as a single unit. Do not allow the plank to fail while rotating.  

Aim for 45 sec of slow rotations, 20 sec rest, x 3 times.  

Take more rest time if needed to maintain a quality 45 sec.  

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The Plank: Day 14/30 Tall Plank

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The Plank: Day 14/30 Tall Plank

Halfway through this plank challenge tomorrow, so a big congrats to all if you who have fought your personal battles each day so far. Tomorrow we introduce paper plates to the game.  (Towel or Gliders will work too)  

Leading up to that ....  

Todays Plank is simply a Tall Plank, for a single max time. Check out Day 2 for the basics and fine tuning tips.  As always .... Quality is more important than time, and pay attention to any shoulder discomfort and stop before it becomes a problem. 

Know your personal best before you begin.  

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The Plank: 30 Days of Why's, How's & Challenges.

 What is a plank?  

The plank is a strengthening exercise that uses the abdominal muscles to hold the body in a face down bridge position, while maintaining a flat back.

 

Why do a plank?

It is a very simple exercise, and has a real worthwhile return on investment. There are not many exercises that can give you the same benefits per time invested.  The nature of the plank allows most people to be able to work at it everyday. Of course you will need to listen to your own body and take extra recovery time if needed.  The benefits of performing regular planks are extensive and I will go in to these in more detail as this 30 day challenge goes on.  A short list would include; 

  • Increased functional core strength.
  • Reduced back pain.
  • Postural Improvements.
  • Better Balance. 

Strength gains in the plank directly translate to improvements across a wide spectrum of other exercises from Push Ups to overhead presses.  Having a strong connection between hips and shoulders allows for more efficient movements and power transfer to the limbs, reduced risk of injury and pain, especially involving the lower back. It won't hurt knowing that a stronger corset of core muscles  can help loose a belt size or two just from holding everything where it should be. Weaker corsets can be pushed out by intestinal pressures increasing girth and bringing with it a host of potential health concerns. 

How do you perform a plank ?

Lie flat on your stomach, place forearms on ground with elbows under shoulders, raise body off ground and maintain a straight back, head in line with spine and eyes focused on in a point on the ground just in front of your hands. 

The fine points.... How to really get it right. 

Join hands together and press gently into the ground to spread the load away from elbows. 

Tighten the abdominal and core muscles. Engage the muscles you feel contracting each time you cough. A cruder but far more effective explanation....  try cutting of your urine mid flow..... these are the muscles you want engaged while you plank, for the entire duration of the plank.  Once these muscles fatigue and fail, your plank is over. Do not allow other body parts, especially the lower back,  to pick up the slack. It is this group of muscles that we are trying to strengthen over the next 30 days.

Common Faults

Looking up, causes excess curvature of the spine, pinching lumber vertebra and pushing hips towards floor. Fix this by keeping your eyes focused in a set point near hands. 

Head too high   

Head too high   

Chin down, in neutral position, head in line with spine allowing for the best activation of the abdominals, and glutes, providing best support for the back. 

Head, Neck & Spine in line.  

Head, Neck & Spine in line.  

Dropping chin low creates tension between shoulder blades and hips to rise, making the plank feel easier initially, but making it a far less effective. position for strength gains

Head too low. 

Head too low. 

Other common mistakes:  

Holding breathe or shallow breathing near the end. 

Even with perfect body alignment, you can relax the corset muscles.  When this happens the hips slowly drop but the lower back muscles take over and are used to keep hips in line.  At this point you are no longer holding your plank so tighten up or drop. Increases in your timed plank are worthless and possibly dangerous  if not done correctly.  

 

So let's get started... Day 1 

Forearm Plank (as described above) For Time.  

Aim for quality time. 

Note, and let us know, your result and your thoughts.  

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