In Exercises

April 01, 2007

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This installment in my dumbbell moves series will examine how dumbbells can be integrated into exercises from the plank position that range from fairly basic movements to more challenging and even extreme ones.

Incorporating the plank position into your movement pool is a smart choice for athletic conditioning. Electromyography (EMG) work at the University of California at Sacrament has recorded higher electrical activity of the entire ab and other core stabilizers in the plank as compared to other abdominal conditioning movements. In this day and age, most trainers recognize the significant contribution the core plays in performance. The cliché that any chain can be only as strong as its weakest link certainly applies here. Adding a dynamic element into the plank with dumbbells takes planks to another level of challenges and athletic requirements.

Prerequisites; or, keeping the horse in front of the cart

Before you incorporate dumbbells, though, you must have the ability to establish a sound plank position with your body, and then to do a full push-up with good form. The plank or position is the top of the push-up: facing the floor, supported only on the toes and hands, with arms extended and hands on the deck anywhere from shoulder width apart to slightly (about the width of one hand) outside the shoulders. The hands should be aligned so that a straight line from one thumb to the other would intersect with the nipples. The legs are extended back and straight, the feet are flexed up (ankles dorsiflexed), and a portion of the body weight is on the toes. The middle of the form (the "core") is tightened and the body drawn into alignment. The ear, shoulder, hip, knee, and ankle should all be points on a single straight line.

Michael Rutherford (a.k.a. Coach Rut) is the owner of CrossFit Kansas City/Boot Camp Fitness. He has over a quarter-century of fitness coaching experience with athletes of all ages. He has also worked in hospital wellness environments and rehabilitation clinics. Coach Rut holds academic degrees in biology, physical education, and exercise physiology and sports biomechanics. He is a USAW-certified Club Coach and is a CrossFit level 3 trainer. He is also the current national Masters Champion in weightlifting at 94 kg.



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