We are over the MOON to welcome certified personal trainer Angie Krueger to the blog for a series of strength-training moves every runner needs. Aside from having run 27 marathons in 27 different states, Angie was recently featured on AMR’s podcast (episode 194, where she explained, among other things, what “cough muscles” are and how to activate them for better results. Intrigued, aren’t you? See below.). Here, she shares the first in a six-part series. Come back every other Tuesday for a follow-up move to help you #findyourstrong.
The plank is one of the “core” moves for runners. If you have a strong core, then you are able to hold yourself upright while you are running and not have that forward lean that relies strictly on your quads (which makes you more fatigued) and lower back. A plank isn’t that difficult to do, but finding those correct muscles and utilizing them the whole time is what makes the plank a very difficult exercise. Start off by holding for up to :30 seconds at a time. Stop the second you feel you can no longer maintain it. The best way to start is by finding a mirror (not to make kissey faces in, but to watch for the perfect form).
Step 1. The most important one. Put two fingers on your belly button and cough. Feel the muscles that contract when you cough. Those are the multifidus, the deep muscles of the belly–the ones really needed to do a plank. We call them the cough muscles.
Step 2. From your forearms, engage those cough muscles tightly as you align your body from your head to your heels in one straight line. You need a slight pinch of the shoulder blades and you need to squeeze your thighs tight and focus on a slight pinch between your glutes (butt cheeks) like you are holding a $100 bill.
Step 3. Hold up to :30, squeezing all of your cough muscles, resting for 10 seconds, then returning to plank position for an additional :30. Continue until you can no longer hold that form.
If you need a beginner option, end at knees (as opposed to toes). If you need more of a challenge, try the plank palms to elbows: put one hand down and press up to both hands, then back to forearms, while still holding those muscles tight. We are not log-rollers, so no rolling your body!!!
We’ll see you back here in two weeks for your next core strength move. By then, we expect abs of steel from all your planking!
Ready to run your first—or fastest—5K this spring? Sign up for the Train Like a Mother Club’s 5K: Run/Walk Challenge or 5K: Race Challenge!
Oh cr*p. I’ve been doing it wrong. No wonder it seemed to easy. I’ve only been clenching a $20. ;0 But seriously I keep my feet much closer together. Is that not correct? Thanks.
Love the plank, even when it’s killing me. I’ve noticed that if I neglect doing doing them my lower back lets me know about it. Great photos and tips!
HOw often do you suggest doing planks?
Try to fit them in daily, if you can. –Angie
I plank at least thrice a week for an average of 2:30s. My longest recorded time is 3:30. However, I only clench real tight after I’m 1 min in, till then I’m just engaging and maintaining form. Also, i keep my legs together and tend to claps by hands in front. Is this okay, or is their a greater benefit in keeping the hands wider?
Hold tight from the beginning as long as you can. Clapping hands in front is ok. Nice work on the plank!!! –Angie
“Step 1. The most important one. Put two fingers on your belly button and cough. Feel the muscles that contract when you cough. Those are the multifidus”
While the plank may be a good exercise, feeling your multifidi at your belly button isn’t. The multifidi (you have lots of them) are located along the spinous processes of your back. To feel them place you fingers along your spine, the miltifidi lie right along side the spinous process (the boney prominences running down your back).
Yes plank is the best home exercise which can be done easily and very effective.