Like most exercises, the plank is an awesome exercise but falls to be a victim of commonly being performed incorrectly and well, boring.
The concepts are important, but we often miss some of the most important parts. What are those? Making sure the lower body is active, using our glutes to help maintain proper alignment, incorporating our lats for shoulder and upper back stability. There are a lot of parts!
The plank is also a tough exercise to get some of the more overweight or elderly people to do well. While there are variations that we can utilize, the truth is getting up and down from the ground can be really rough!
That is why when Senior DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training instructor, Troy Anderson, told me of the success he was having with just Front Holding the Ultimate Sandbag I was intrigued.
You see, we are building to a physical test next year for our DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training certifications. Troy was working on building both his endurance and overhead strength when he told me he found huge benefits in just holding the Ultimate Sandbag in the Front Load position.
I had done these a little, but never really committed them into being in my programs. After hearing Troy talk about how he noticed big improvements in both his endurance and pressing strength, well, he caught my attention.
I started employing these Ultimate Sandbag Training Front Holds at the end of my workouts a finishers. Heavier Ultimate Sandbag Training holds for maybe 30 seconds and lighter ones for up to a minute. Man, I began to feel things in my body that were just pretty unreal.
You have to do the Front Hold right I found. While holding the Ultimate Sandbag doesn’t sound too technical (well, it isn’t), there are some things people do wrong and if you do it wrong you miss out on so many of the awesome benefits.
Probably the number one problem people will face is wanting to lean through their low back. This is a BIG no no for a few reasons. The most obvious is that it will put a lot of unnecessary stress through the low back and secondly, once we lean we take stress off the abdominals.
Instead, we want to focus on driving through our heels and feet, keeping tension in the back side will help us keep from leaning through the low back.
Second most common problem is not paying attention to the upper body. Most people make a big mistake in Ultimate Sandbag Training not being purposeful with their upper body when they hold the Ultimate Sandbag. Not being aware of the upper body will put the wrong parts of the body under load and make us lose the ability to build strength and endurance in the parts of the body we want!
Once you power clean the Ultimate Sandbag into the Front Hold position pull the weight into your body. You should feel your shoulders blades moving “down and back” and tension in the underarms. Your elbows should be relatively close to your ribs and not elevated, this keeps the tension through the upper back and torso, not the shoulders and arms!
Following these guidelines and what you find is that you have the perfect plank! We didn’t have to come down to the ground and we have way more options here. Like adding the challenge of walking!
That’s right, walking is a way to destabilize the body placing more work through the core. That is why exercises like farmer’s walks have regained popularity. However, having tried using farmer’s walks for over a decade with people I just find it is just not a good exercise for most people.
A LOT of people suffer from overactive traps. Even with great form on Farmer’s Walks people seem to get really aggravated in their upper traps. I found that the Ultimate Sandbag Training Front Hold walk is WAY better because it works the OPPOSITE muscles of the upper traps and can take pressure off the neck long term.
Just like the name implies, you can go walking for a short (30-50 seconds) or long (60-180 seconds) time in the Front Hold position. Even if you don’t have a lot of space you can perform an in place march and you will be SHOCKED at how a simple exercise works you big time!
You can place it at the end of your workouts, or you can be a glutton for punishment like Coach Anderson and use it in between sets of your other exercises. Wow! You won’t believe how torched your core and upper back will be! Try it and you will find yourself saying good bye to planks and farmer’s walks!