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The Smarter Plank Challenges for Real Strength

sandbag training


Cory Cripe, DVRT Master (DVRT Movement Strength Creator)

It’s amazing how all these plank challenges continue surfacing on social media promising fitness enthusiasts a stronger, more toned midsection by holding this ground based exercise longer. But really?

I won’t deny it, planks are a great exercise when done right. However, when someone attempts to hold their planks as long as possible form is the first to go. You’ve seen it and you know exactly what I’m talking about. I have found personally that when I rock a plank the right way with maximum amount of tension, I can’t hold it very long (please insert your Michael Scott quote now and let’s move on)!

I said it earlier about maximizing the tension, but where? Let’s start with where it all begins: the hands and feet! Picture a tent. You first set up the foundation, the support of the tent and when everything is in place you pull tight the cords and ties, creating lots of tension, and hammer them into the ground. When one of these ties begins to lose tension there is a noticeable sag in your tent.

Not the way to establish your plank or tent!

That can be said, too, about your plank. If your hands and feet are not plugged into the floor, pressing harder and harder then the muscles, ligaments, and tendons that are suppose to be tense begin to sag and the load shifts onto the wrists and other joints, which are not meant to support the weight.

Be happy with a shorter, but more intense, plank by grabbing the floor with your hands and feet, creating so much tension you can cut it with a knife, and making the correct body parts do their job!

All right – your plank is solid and you’re getting all the right feels and finding out this popular “ab exercise” is actually a total body experience! Now what, is it acceptable to call a good plank enough? It’s a good start, but now it’s important to integrate your super-stiff plank into movements that will challenge it’s real-world applications.

I bet you are thinking that I’m going to move into the DVRT plank drills with the Ultimate Sandbags – and it’s too obvious so I’m not going to go there! I’ll admit the DVRT plank drills will offer you much education and strength, but life meets you on your feet and that’s where I want to test the integrity of your planking …

Bent-Over Rows

This is my favorite place to begin testing the plank. Once the hip hinge movement has been mastered – we can find out how long you can really maintain the plank under load! Holding the hip hinge while rowing will put some serious strain on your midsection and tax your plank in a way you may have never experienced! Tension tip: as you row the USB continue corkscrewing the elbows as you raise them to the sky and push the floor as you row up and slowly lower back down – no slamming!

Overhead Pressing

How can we make pressing overhead a core exercise and not an arms & shoulders exercise? Let’s begin with your feet and the ground. Take those toes and scrunch them up, really grab the floor as tight as you can with them and create a “short foot” with both feet. Feel those feet pushing hard into the ground and let that create the tension necessary to transfer through the thighs, into the core, and pull your shoulder blades down into your back pockets while the USB rises up over head! No bending in the knee or breaking in the waist will ensure a plank that is ready for real world activities!


Here is where the rubber hits the road with how “real world” ready your plank actually is! Including a USB in the front loaded position just took your plank to a whole new level with this popular DVRT lunge-building drill! Now it is required for your plank to be rigid and strong in order to maintain the integrity of your core while changing levels, going from standing to kneeling and back to standing. Think about that 5-minute plank we talked about earlier, see how much plank feels you get from the Up-Downs in 60 seconds!


And then, by all means, take your plank to the next level by changing the lever arm and placing your USB on the fists! Looking to hit some side planks? How about moving your USB on top of the shoulders?

When working on these, my three favorite DVRT “plank” exercises, you can rest assured you won’t need to be spending all that time holding your body off the floor. You can spend less the time integrating movement with muscles creating a better movement strength effect!

Learn more about how we create success in real world strength & fitness. Check out Cory’s DVRT Movement Strength programs for 25% off with coupon code “summersale” HERE

Sandbag Training