UPDATE: We’ve been getting this question a lot.

We’ve received a handful of emails asking why we’re talking about “boring plank exercises.”

Here’s the problem: the guys who sent the emails were jumping straight to the video below. They missed the WHOLE point!

The whole difference between a useless plank that everyone else does, and the insanely awesomely effective RKC Plank we’re sharing with you has to do with the details of how you hold the position. Trust me. It’s worth actually reading AND we have more videos below.  I personally emailed the guys (and they were all guys by the way) and explained the difference. They totally got it and were actually pretty excited.

So from us to you, enjoy!

Jill

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Our team of trainers and doctors came up with our number one ab movement- The RKC Plank Plus.
  • Regardless of your fitness level, this is guaranteed to be the most efficient core exercise you’ve seen, all you need is a floor and two arms.
  • We are giving away 50 Xymogen Protein Shake kits to our readers that share photos of their planks with us.

So everywhere you look you see recommendations for how to get abs. You see magazine covers, web articles, advice on abs and more abs. It’s like the world spends more time on abs than solving heart disease. Everybody wants them. (What we are NOT going to do, by the way, is litter this report with pictures of ripped abs. If that’s the Inspiration you need, we can do that in another post. We’ll call it, “If you have two hours a day to spend in the gym, you can look like these people.”)

In the meantime, what are the solutions everybody has been using for years to figure out their stomach situation:

Crunches? Lots of crunches. Except they don’t work your entire middle and can actually hurt your back.

Hanging knee pulls? Well that mostly works your hips and lots of people can’t do them anyhow.

Planks? Ya. That’s the ticket. But why can my out of shape uncle do two minutes of planks and he’s an out of shape mess?

Here’s the point: if you do a real plank. A hard plank. An RKC Plank. You will burn out in about ten seconds. 

Can you give up ten seconds to solve your back pain, make all of your other exercises more efficient, and get awesome abs- that frankly everybody would sell their grandma for? Of course you would.

We talked to our doctors and master trainers and physical therapists, and this is what we came up with: The RKC Plank Plus. RKC is short for Russian Kettlebell Certified. If you haven’t heard of RKC, get your google going, it’s no joke.

Now you might have heard of the RKC Plank, and if you have, awesome, send us some photos of you to inspire the rest of us. But even then, you probably haven’t seen the RKC Plank Plus. It’s pretty simple, for all of our elite readers that crush ab work like tiny soda cans, get your RKC and add a push up. Sounds simple? DO TEN! We dare you.

But don’t make these mistakes:

  • Round your back like a speed bump in the street. THIS MAKES SO MUCH DIFFERENCE. Even a slight lift dramatically changes the difficulty and effectiveness. You can feel it. And if you can’t, look in a mirror, have a friend watch, or best still: use a BROOM, (that’s right, a broom) to lay down your back- the back of your head, shoulders, and butt should all touch the broom.
  • Stick your butt up in the air like a cat is sitting underneath your belt buckle. SAME THING AS ABOVE!
  • Jut your chin towards the ground like your smelling something delicious you dropped off your plate. This is what gives people should pain during pushups and planks. It makes it easier, but we don’t want that.

Here’s a horrible pushup:

The same rules apply to the RKC Plank and Plank Plus.

Watch the video below. It’s not really too complicated. It’s not easy though.

Here’s some guidance:

  • Support your upper body on your elbows while lying on your stomach. Squeeze your shoulders in a kind of reverse shrug, pulling them tight to your ribs.
  • Squeeze your glutes and straighten your knees as hard as possible.
  • Lift up into a position where you feel you have balanced tension everywhere.
  • Now SQUEEZE everything even harder.
  • The plank isn’t a marathon, and any of the above mistakes will make it easy to hold on for minutes at a time.
  • If you can concentrate on anything other than not passing out or screaming for mommy, then you’re not doing this right.
  • Don’t expect to do the Plank Plus unless you are part super hero.

And…

  • What you don’t see in the video is the breathing. One of the top mistakes people make is not breathing deep and forcefully. Why? Because it makes your entire core work harder. Just like tennis stars screaming from the back line or karate kids breaking bricks, strong breathing cranks up the internal obliques and the transverse.   (If you’re feeling nerdy there’s a link to some research below).

Here’s a video demo:

For beginners-  

  1. Try holding the plank position without the intense squeezing or breathing, working up to 20 seconds, for 3 sets.
  2. Once you have the basic position down, you can start to contract your glutes and legs, again try 20 seconds for 3 sets.

For the more advanced-  

  1. The next step is to hold the RKC Plank and squeeze like you’re holding your last dollar between your back pockets, here 10 seconds should be enough.
  2. And before you know it, you’ll be able to add the hard breathing for the full heart pounding effect. You can work on each stage three times a day, at one week per stage and see how you advance, after 10 seconds you might be crying- cool. Now rest for 30 seconds and do 2 more sets

*** We can not put enough asterisks on the page to remind you: If you have injuries, pains, surgeries, etc. please, puhleeez, consult with a pro before getting into something new.

Here’s what else RKC Planks can do for you-

This is at the bottom of most peoples’ lists of results they are looking for, but get us health nerds really pumped. Firing up a set of planks before doing big lifts like squats, dead lifts, and even bench press (you are doing your big compound lifts, aren’t you?) will send a neural message into your core that will stabilize it which will:

  • Let you lift more (strong muscles are sexy muscles)
  • Let you lift more safely (stabile muscles are not injured muscles)

A program with this in mind would look like doing sets of RKCs in between your warm up sets of lifts. Do them after your basic warm ups on the foam roller or doing some cardio or active stretches (you are warming up before you start exercising, right?)

Want to get nerdier? Planks help with hip flexibility. This is important for too many reasons for me to include, but the gist of it is: if your middle parts aren’t strong and stable, then you hips get scared and won’t allow themselves to be moved around.

  • Take home: you think you’re not flexible? Well there’s a good chance your body is protecting itself. Get your plank and side plank fired up and you’ll be surprised how you can get more motion in your hips. WARM UP with RKC Planks!

EVEN NERDIER!??! There’s a good chance your push ups suck. There. I said it. Your back caves in. Your shoulders hurt. Your head sags. AND THEY AREN’T EVEN WORKING. Well friends, again it’s a core issue. You’re actually doing a plank (hopefully) during a push up. And if you get your RKC Plank form down, all of your push up issues magically go away.

  • Push ups are awesome exercise. You can’t do them right with a messed up middle. RKC Planks will fix that.

… Now having all of this said, this approach to planks – breathing hard in and out, plus a strong whole body contraction for 10 seconds at a time can make all the difference when it comes to training a strong, safe and chiseled midsection. Go ahead. Try it. We think it’s the best ab exercise. Period.

FYI We love questions. Send us questions. Comments. Is this awesome info? Does it suck? We want to maximize the radness over here, so “help me help you…”

P.S.

Don’t forget: the ultimate bonus for those of you that want to share their ultimate planks with us:

We’re giving away 50 Protein Shake packs from Xymogen to subscribers who email us (or Facebook) their plank photos. (That’s serious business, the Protein Shakes go for $40 a pack and are doctor level fancy, so don’t miss out).

P.P.S.

If you missed our gift last week, the Smoothie Grid, with 30,000 recipes, yes that many, you can get a last chance look at for free right here. You can thank us later!


Research:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23945040

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3990875/

Thanks to the guys at Scrawny To Brawny for the terrible push up video. And to Dean Somerset for the solid plank video.