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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Michael Blume

Recent Posts by Michael Blume:

Plan a Fun Workout with a Deck of Cards

GettyImages-182243945Looking for a simple and fun way to plan your own workout? You can use a deck of playing cards to determine which exercises to do and how many reps. Here are the steps for planning this game-based workout.

Determine Your Workout Goal

What kind of workout do you want to accomplish? Is it cardio based, strength based, or a combo of both? Once you have determined this, choose exercises that coincide with your workout goal. For example, if you want to do a cardio-based workout, you will need an exercise designed to raise your heart rate, like hill sprints, sled pushes, or timed intervals on the rower. If your goal is strength-based, you need to choose resistance exercises like dumbbell bent-over rows, barbell bench presses, or bodyweight air squats. If you want to mix it up, pick exercises that are combo of strength and cardio that can do both, like dumbbell thrusters (front squat to push presses) or burpee to box jumps. 

Select four exercises. Assign each exercise to a suit in the deck of cards. For example, here’s a quick view of suits for a combo workout:

  • Spades: Dumbbell thrusters
  • Clubs: Rowing (x50m for every # on card)
  • Hearts: Barbell bench press
  • Diamonds: Air squats
  • Jokers: (Wild card or rest break) x5 flights of stair climbs followed by a 2–5-minute rest.

Know Your Numbers

The number on the card is representative of the number of reps you'll perform. For instance, a 2 represents x2 reps, an 8 represents x8 reps, and so on. However, Jacks, Queens, Kings, and Aces can get tricky. You have a couple of options. You could choose to assign each face card the equivalent of x10 reps, so no matter which face card you draw, you always perform the same number of reps. As an alternative, to make it more challenging, assign each face card a different number of repetitions: Jack x11 reps, Queen x12 reps, and King x13 reps. For the Ace card, decide whether to make it a face card, assigning it the equivalent of x10 or more reps, or you can treat it as a x1 rep, assigning a single repetition. Whichever way you decide, the number or number equivalent of the card you draw from the deck is the number of reps you'll perform. Jokers are your wild cards or rest breaks. I typically use them to designate a rest or break within the workout with a special extra exercise before taking the rest break.

# of Reps
Ace = 1 rep, 10 or 14 reps, player's choice
2 through 10 = 2 through 10 reps
Jack = 10 or 11 reps, player's choice
Queen = 10 or 12 reps, player's choice
King = 10 or 13 reps, player's choice
Joker = Rest or player’s choice

Shuffle Up and Deal

Start your workout, perform the designated exercise for the assigned number of reps, and immediately pull another card from the deck after completing each exercise. Continue drawing cards and performing exercises until you finish the amount of cards you want to do for your workout, or until you have done all 52 cards.

Sample Workouts

Here are four different workouts that I have done in the past with my athletes. 

Workout: 52-card Pickup—Upper-body Strength

Goal: Complete reps to the corresponding card. Shuffle up the deck and complete the entire 52 cards

  • Face cards = 10 reps

First Half of Deck

  • Hearts = Barbell bench press
  • Diamonds = Wide-grip pulldowns
  • Spades = E-Z bar preacher curls
  • Clubs = E-Z bar skull crushers
  • Jokers = Manual resistance x5 reps of previous card pulled followed by 2-minute rest period

Second Half of Deck

  • Hearts = DB triple press (high/low/flat) broken up and rotating between cards
  • Diamonds = Seated wide-grip rows
  • Spades = DB hammer curls
  • Clubs = Cable/rope triceps OH press-outs
  • Jokers = Manual resistance x5 reps of previous card pulled followed by x2min rest period

Workout: 52-card Pickup—Strength and Cardio

Goal: Complete reps to the corresponding card. Shuffle up the deck and complete the entire 52 cards.

  • Face cards = x:20secs
  • Jokers = Sprint the distance and rest
  • Hearts = BOSU jumps—stick and hold (alt. direction of jumps)
  • Diamonds = Box step-ups w/sandbags
  • Spades = Med-ball slams (any variations)
  • Clubs = BOSU push-ups (alt. exercises) OR plyo push-ups
  • Jokers = x200m run (x1 lap) and 2-minute water break

Workout: 52-card Pickup—Cardio and BW Strength

Goal: Complete reps to the corresponding card. Shuffle up the deck and complete the entire 52 cards.

Sprint the distance associated with the suit on the card on a soccer or football field.

  • Hearts = x1 width of field sprint
  • Diamonds = x1 down and back width of field sprint
  • Spades = x1 length of field sprint
  • Clubs = x1 down and back length of field sprint
  • Jokers = Rest
  • Red cards = Push-ups
  • Black cards = Sit-ups

Workout: 52-card Pickup—Full-Body and Cardio Combo

Goal: Complete reps to the corresponding card. Shuffle up the deck and complete the entire 52 cards.

  • Face cards = 10 reps

Part I: Full-Body

  • Hearts = MB burpee slams
  • Diamonds = BOSU GUGDs
  • Spades = Push-ups plank shoulder taps (R/L)
  • Clubs = Plate halos R/L
  • Jokers = 200m (red lanes) sprint followed by 2-minute rest

Part II: Cardio

  • Hearts = Sled drive (10m for every card #)
  • Diamonds = Jump rope (x20 skips for every card #)
  • Spades = Rowing (x50m for every card #)
  • Clubs = Airdyne bike springs (x:10s for every card #)
  • Jokers = Stair climb to top of NIFS (hallway) followed by 2-minute rest

Part III

  • Hearts = Sledgehammer strikes
  • Diamonds = Sandbag clean and press
  • Spades = BOSU hand release push-ups
  • Clubs = KB swings

FINISHED!

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This blog was written by Michael Blume, MS, SCCC; Athletic Performance Coach. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: cardio workouts total-body workouts strength workout

12 Days of Christmas: A HIIT Workout You Can Do Anywhere

GettyImages-1267513535We’re in the midst of the holidays. You probably have family commitments or events pulling you away from the gym or time with your favorite trainers at NIFS. You never want to feel as if you are missing out on something during this festive period when you have to work out from home or on the road away from the gym. But with this super-setted HIIT workout, fittingly named for the holidays, you can be sure to improve both your muscle strength and overall fitness while torching some holiday cookie calories over this break.

All you need is yourself and a bench, chair, or step to complete this intense superset HIIT session. This workout includes 12 supersets in total, each designed to get your heart rate up as well as challenge your various different muscle groups.

The Workout

Get ready to tackle 20 to 40 minutes of different HIIT cardio exercises in today's sweat fest! No equipment is needed, so you can work out at home or the gym. Focus on challenging yourself and doing YOUR best!

  • 1x Jump Rope x 30 seconds
  • 2x Spider Push-Up (alt. R/L)
  • 3x Switch Lunge Kicks (alt. R/L)
  • 4x Dip + Knee Pull (alt. R/L)
  • 5x Squat Toe Taps (alt. R/L)
  • 6x Dead Bugs (alt. R/L)
  • 7x Reverse Lunge to Half Burpee (alt. R/L)
  • 8x Elevated Reverse Plank Alternating Knee Pull (alt. R/L)
  • 9x Bird Dogs (alt. R/L)
  • 10x Rear Foot Elv. Split Squats (alt. R/L)
  • 11x 4x Mountain Climbers + Launcher
  • 12x 2x Reverse Lunge to 2x Jump Squats = x1 Rep
  • BONUS Rd13x Push Up + Hyperextension + Knee Tucks
  • BONUS Rd14x 3x Plank Jack + Pike-up Hop
  • BONUS Rd15x Elevated Plank Hip Drop + Knee Pull

Sub/swap exercises as needed. Follow order, accumulating rounds/reps

  • Rd 1 - x1 rep (in this case, Time: 30 seconds)
  • Rd 2 - x1 + x2 reps
  • Rd 3 - x1 + x2 + x3 reps
  • Rd 4 - x1 + x2 + x3 + x4 reps

... And so on until you're finished with round 12

  • Rd 12 - x1 + x2 + x3 + x4... x10 + x11 + x12 reps

(You will do round 1 x12 times, whereas round 12 only once)

  • **Bonus**… Rd 13, 14, 15 (x3 more additional rounds)
  •   - x1 + x2 + x3 + x4... x10 + x11 + x12 + x13 + x14 + x15 reps

Increase the Intensity

If you want to increase the intensity of this particular workout, I suggest two options. First, add another round with the bonuses. Second, repeat this routine for another series depending on your fitness level.

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This blog was written by Michael Blume, MS, SCCC; Athletic Performance Coach. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: cardio exercise at home workouts calories holidays high intensity HIIT strength workout superset

King of the Gym, Part 4: Bodyweight Squat Exercises on the Go

In part 4 of this series on squats, I focus on body weight again, setting up lower-body conditioning routines you can do at home, outside in the park, or in the hotel when you’re on the road. These are some of my favorite go-to workouts when I’m on the road or don’t have time to get in a quick leg workout. As I have reiterated throughout this blog series (part 1, part 2, and part 3), regardless of your fitness goals, you can and should add some form or fashion of squats to your fitness routines.

A Quick Workout: AMRAP Challenge

This video is a 6-minute lower-body AMRAP challenge. Your goal is to follow the routine and complete the series for as many rounds as possible (AMRAP) in the 6 minutes. Keep in mind, if you’re a beginner, start with less time (start with 4 minutes) or fewer reps of the combination. I love doing this quick workout when time is limited and I need to get in a quick lower-body workout.

 

6 Minute Challenge AMRAP

 

Follow order:

  • Reverse Lunge
  • BW Squat
  • Reverse Lunge
  • BW Squat
  • Box Jump
  • BW Squat (on Box)
  • Step-down
  • BW Squat

A Tougher Lower-body Workout

When I’m on the road but do have time to get a tough lower-body workout completed, I like completing the following six series combined for a workout. Start with the first video and work your way through all six challenges. This has a variety of work to be completed, from EMOMs (Every Minute on the Minute) to Ladders (x1–10 Reps). Again, keep in mind, if you’re a beginner, start with less time, fewer reps, or a combination of the six challenges. As you advance, add more time or complete more than one challenge together if time allows. Also, if time is short, just like the 6-minute lower body challenge, complete one of the challenges instead of all six.

CHALLENGE 1: 10 minutes EMOM (Every Minute on the Minute) x15 Bodyweight Squats

CHALLENGE 2: 3 rounds x15 R/L—Rear Foot Elevated Split Squats

CHALLENGE 3: 5 rounds x5 Reps—Squat Jumps w/Floor Taps

CHALLENGE 4: x10min EMOM (Every Minute on the Minute) x10 Single-leg Bridges (R/L)

CHALLENGE 5: Burpee Ladder x1–10 x1 Rep x2 Reps x3 Reps... x8 Reps x9 Reps x10 Reps—Finished

 

Lower Body Circuit Burpee Ladder

 

CHALLENGE 6: Alternating Split Squat Lunge Jumps—Ladder x1–10 x1 Rep x2 Reps x3 Reps... x8 Reps x9 Reps x10 Reps—Finished

Vertical Jump Training Body Weight-1

 

Get “King of the Gym” Results Outside the Gym

Whether you’re taking a break from heavy back squats or just need variety, or possibly you’re on the road traveling, you have ways to focus on your lower-body strength without a barbell and rack. Throughout the four posts in this series, Instead of adding more weight to your back squats, you’re changing up the exercises to make it more difficult and challenging. Your squats can progress in a similar way if you’re not barbell back squatting: You can start by doing air squats with both legs, then progress to split squats, and eventually one-legged pistol squats, which are a lot more challenging. On the road, focus on body weight again and set-up lower-body conditioning routines.

As I have reiterated in each of the preceding posts, regardless of your fitness goals, some form or fashion of squats can and should be added to your fitness routines. The end result for your lower body is similar to what you can get from working out with “king of the gym” back squats.

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This blog was written by Michael Blume, MS, SCCC; Athletic Performance Coach. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: fitness center workouts videos body weight bodyweight lower body outdoor exercise squat

Spooktacular Outdoor Halloween Workouts at NIFS

GettyImages-1307733923The month of October, also known as ROCKTOBER or SQUATOBER and famous for Halloween, is here. I thought I would put together two workouts—a fun workout, Pumpkin Partners, and a challenging workout, The Hell Bridge—that everyone can enjoy this October! Both are great for outdoor training in cooler weather

The fun workout requires one large pumpkin between partners. If you don’t want to bring a pumpkin to the gym, there are plenty of med-balls to use instead to do the trick. The challenging workout requires good running shoes and a couple of trips across the bridge between the NCAA and the Indianapolis Zoo. 

Fun Workout: Pumpkin Partners

This workout is a two-part AMRAP workout (AMRAP means “as many rounds as possible”). 

Part 1

Pair up and complete as many rounds as possible of the circuit in 12minutes. Partner #1 does the exercises below while Partner #2 is resting. Switch roles, alternating partners, after completing the circuit.

  • x15 yds Traveling Overhead (MB / Pumpkin) Lunges—Traveling Down
  • 20x Thrusters (MB/Pumpkin) Squat to an Overhead Shoulder Press
  • x15 yds Traveling Squat Jumps with (MB / Pumpkin) [Swing MB/Pumpkin as you Jump]—Travel Back to Start
  • 20x Mountain Climbers with Hands on (MB / Pumpkin)

Part 2

Another paired-up AMRAP of 8 minutes. Again, Partner #1 does the exercises below, while Partner #2 is resting. Switch roles, alternating partners, after completing the circuit.

  • 5x (MB / Pumpkin) Push-ups [Close grip for harder variation, one hand on/one hand off for easier variation]
  • 10x (MB / Pumpkin) Sit & Reach Crunches [Crunch with an Overhead Press as You Sit Up]
  • 15x (MB / Pumpkin) Half Burpee OH Presses [Burpee with no Push-up to a Pumpkin Curl and Press Overhead]

Finisher

Partner who completes the most work during both workouts gets to Pumpkin Toss:

  • 1x Reverse (MB / Pumpkin) Toss for Height… Throw as high as possible and smash that pumpkin!

I suggest you do this outdoors to avoid a big mess. If pumpkin does not break on the first toss, repeat between partners until it is destroyed. HAVE FUN!

Challenging Workout: The Hell Bridge

Head out to the bridge between the NCAA headquarters and the Indianapolis Zoo. (It’s the bridge with all the art installations in the middle.) The workout is run SHORT to LONG, starting at the blue art installation next to the NCAA side of the bridge. Your goal is to do the exercise listed below all the way to the break in the grass/sidewalk. Each lap will get progressively longer. Follow with a run back to the start (the blue art installation) at the break in the grass/side walk. Essentially you will be making big circles/loops that progressively get longer until you have finally made it all the way across the bridge. 

  • Lap 1: Burpee Broad Jumps (Leap Frog + Push-ups) + Run Back to Start
  • Lap 2: Zig-zags (Line Skaters) + Run Back to Start
  • Lap 3: Lunges (change any direction—FWD/BKW/Side) + Run Back to Start
  • Lap 4: Sprint (as fast as possible—middle of the bridge) + Run Back to Start
  • Lap 5: Power Skips + Run Back to Start
  • Lap 6: Lateral Shuffles (stay low, no galloping) + Run Back to Start
  • Lap 7: Back Pedal + Run Back to Start
  • Lap 8: Sprint (all the way to the Zoo—as fast as possible) + Run Back to Start—FINISHED!

Whichever workout you choose (or possibly both), please get a good cool-down and stretch. You’ve earned it: go trick-or-treating after you’ve completed these workouts!

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This blog was written by Michael Blume, MS, SCCC; Athletic Performance Coach. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: fitness center workouts holidays fall outdoor exercise halloween

King of the Gym, Part 3: Bodyweight Squats

Heavy weights can get exhausting, but don’t give up on squats just because of that. Instead, give bodyweight squats a try. In part three of the “King of the Gym” series, I focus on bodyweight-only variations on barbell back squats. Sometimes you need a break from all the heavy barbell training. That’s when bodyweight squats become useful by keeping you strong and well-conditioned.

The Air Squat

To start off, you must master the classic bodyweight squat, also known as the air squat. Keep your feet shoulder width apart, toes pointed forward, and the weight centered over your feet. Go down as deep as possible. At the bottom, push through your heels and the balls of your feet to begin ascent. All the while, keep your chest up and push into the ground until you are back up straight again. One rep completed!

Air Squats

 

Air Squat Variations

All the variations below are for the air squat and can be used for different purposes. Some can be used for mobility, while others used to build strength. Add them to your training program as you see fit.

Bodyweight Squats

 

Pick at least one variation from this list and start practicing it within your fitness routines. Drill down the different techniques of these alternatives to help strengthen areas of weakness within your barbell squats and become more extremely efficient when you do get back to barbell squats again.

Next in the Series

In part 4 of the series, I focus on bodyweight again, but set up some conditioning routines you can do at home, outside in the park, or in a hotel when on the road. As I have reiterated in each of the previous installments of this series, regardless of your fitness goals, some form or fashion of squats can and should be added to your fitness routines.

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This blog was written by Michael Blume, MS, SCCC; Athletic Performance Coach. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: exercise at home fitness center core strength bodyweight squat

King of the Gym, Part 2: Lower-Body Training with Simple Equipment

If we have learned anything this past year in quarantine, we’ve found creative ways we can train to get fit and stay strong in our living rooms, garages, basements, and backyards with our favorite squat racks. In part 2 of my blog series, you’ll learn how to use something simple like a dumbbell, kettlebell, med-ball, or light equipment like resistance bands to functionally train your lower body in place of the “king of the gym” back squats. 

Barbell Back Squat

Videos: No-barbell Exercises

If you don’t have a squat rack and barbell at the ready, there are a variety of different worthy alternatives to back squats—with no barbell required. Here are seven “king of the gym” alternatives that can use a kettlebell, dumbbell, med-ball, or bands.

Lower Body Training

The exercises in the preceding videos are great alternatives for anyone, especially if you can’t make it into the gym but you do have some light equipment at your disposal.

Functional Training for the Lower Body

Even if you are in the gym, but you don’t quite like the idea of doing a heavy-loaded barbell lift, you can still create resistance for your lower body. Resistance doesn’t mean loaded barbells; instead, these alternative exercises are loaded differently to functionally train the lower body. 

In part 3 of the series, I focus on body weight only, and in part 4 I set up some different routines you can do in a hotel when you’re on the road. Regardless of your fitness goals, you can and should add some form or fashion of squats to your fitness routines. 

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This blog was written by Michael Blume, MS, SCCC; Athletic Performance Coach. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: exercise at home equipment videos lower body squat pandemic

King of the Gym, Part 1: Squat Alternatives

I enjoy all forms of exercise, but like many, I want the most bang for my buck when I’m exercising. Sure, I am always on the lookout for the new and best exercises that would not only kick my behind, but also have benefits all around. However, I always trend back to the “king of the gym”: an exercise that I do without fail—SQUAT

The Squat Reigns Supreme

Squats are often referred to as the “king of the gym” exercise, and for a good reason. When done correctly, squats utilize essentially every muscle in the body. If you want to get stronger, get bigger, or lose weight, squats will help. Although they aren’t a must in order to build your lower body, they are probably the most efficient exercise. Whether it’s building a stronger core, back, and legs; increasing bone density; or burning fat, squats are the best bang for your buck due to the engagement of many muscle groups activated at once.

Barbell Back Squat-1

 

But this post isn’t about just about squatting. In fact, in this four-part series, I want to show you that there are plenty of different alternatives to the “king of the gym.” We don’t always have the luxury of a barbell and rack or endless equipment resources from the gym. Perhaps you train from home or are on the road at a hotel. Either way, No worries!

Squat Alternatives Using Other Gym Equipment

First up are five effective squat alternatives you can do with access to gym equipment other than the traditional barbell back squat. Are there more than five? Yes, but these are my favorites. When I have an injury, or I’m bored, or all the racks in the gym are being used, I like to substitute these five exercises in place of squats. These five moves show alternatives to squatting that you can do efficiently in the gym when a barbell and rack aren’t available and still achieve similar or better gains.

Squat Alternatives

As you can see, an effective squatting workout doesn’t have to be limited to the “king of the gym.” If you don’t have a squat rack available, there are a variety of different squatting alternatives you can use instead.

More in the Series

In part 2 of this series, learn how to use bodyweight and light equipment like resistance bands to functionally train your lower body. In part 3 of the series, I focus on body weight only, and in part 4 I set up some different routines you can do in a hotel when you’re on the road. Regardless of your fitness goals, some form or fashion of squats can and should be added to your fitness routines.

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This blog was written by Michael Blume, MS, SCCC; Athletic Performance Coach. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: fitness center equipment weight loss strength core videos squat

Use Prehab Exercises to Improve Athletic Performance and Health

To potentially prevent future injuries, you can use prehab exercises to bomb-proof your body. The overall goal of prehab exercises is to increase durability in your physical activities with better-quality movements, which will improve your performance and overall health.

How Prefab Exercises Help

As a planned part of your exercise routine, prehab exercises will help with mobility, activation, and stabilization:

  • MOBILITY is the process of collectively improving your flexibility.
  • ACTIVATION is the process of causing controlled contractions or trying to “turn on” specific underactivated muscle groups to fire.
  • STABILIZATION is the process of generating coordination, or to control movement.

Videos of Prefab Exercises

The videos I’ve added are a few of my favorite routines to do with athletes before workouts begin. The goal is to strengthen and mobilize joints (such as shoulders, hips, knees, and elbows) as well as help practice movements you do during workouts and everyday life. Depending on your workout for the day, I’ve included samples of full-body, upper, and lower routines that I use with athletes regularly.

Full-Body Prehab Exercise Video

Full Body Prehab Exercises

Upper-Body Prehab Exercise Video

Upper Body Prehab Standing-I, Y, T, Ws and Scap Taps

Lower-Body Prehab Exercise Video

Lower Body Prehab Exercises

Practice is the key to all these prehab exercise movements. Work on the exercises that you find the most challenging and develop a body that will be mobile, strong, and stable for many workouts to come.

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This blog was written by Michael Blume, MS, SCCC; Athletic Performance Coach. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: exercises videos mobility joints movement stability prehab

Stiff Hips? Try Hurdle Stretches

GettyImages-1243955198I wish I had a dollar for every time a coach has said to me, “That athlete has stiff hips,” or “That athlete folds over at the waist,” etc. So how do I help an inefficient athlete with stiff hips? I use simple hurdle stretches that train my athletes to bend.

Many times it’s an athlete with long legs and a short torso. I wish I was more consistent in hurdle stretches with my athletes, but in the perfect coaching world, I would use them at every strength workout and have an extra set of hurdles near the practice fields/courts for use before practices.

Hurdle stretches are great because you can complete four to six stretches in less than five minutes. A hurdle stretch routine is helpful before and after activity. It’s also great for efficiently training a large group of athletes if you have 10–12 hurdles separated into two different lines of 5–6 hurdles.

Set-up some hurdles at NIFS and take yourself through these drills to loosen up those “stiff hips.”

Hurdle Stretches

 

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This blog was written by Michael Blume, MS, SCCC; Athletic Performance Coach. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS fitness center strength stretching exercises coaching athletes

Plank Progression Series

GettyImages-1168143615The plank series needs no equipment, only a wall (if you make it that far). Attempt to complete the plank series in order. Complete the plank progressive series on the days you work out at the end of your workout. If you are x2 days in a row successful and have perfect technique with the exercise, move on to the next progressive variation. You will see that the traditional plank is repeated multiple times and we will add time as you progress along over break. You do not need to do more than what is asked of you. It will be easy at first, but trust me: it gets harder by the end.

Step 1: Build Awareness

The dowel is placed along the spine and is kept in contact with three points: back of the head (not the top), thoracic region (between shoulder blades), and the sacrum (tailbone). This forces you to understand and become aware of proper alignment. Essentially, the dowel serves as your coach. If it rolls off or wobbles, you aren’t in good alignment.

Additionally, the quadruped position is great to begin to develop awareness of optimal alignment because it takes most of the load off the system while still keeping the torso in a very similar position to the abs plank. 

Once you can hold optimal position for 30 seconds, move on to step 2. 

Step 2: Lengthen the Lever Arm

The straight-arm plank is essentially a static hold in push-up position. This takes what we learned in step 1 and adds in some load due to the increased length in the lever arm. The load on the abs here is not as great as on the elbows.

If you cannot hold optimal alignment for 30 seconds, keep working here until you can. If you can maintain optimal alignment without disturbing the dowel, you are ready to move on to step 3.

As I stated above, the elbow plank with dowel increases the load on the torso even further over the straight-arm variation. In other words, it demands more strength and control of optimal alignment.

Step 3: Elbow Plank

Once you can hold this position for at least 30 seconds without much fatigue, you are ready to move on to the advanced progressions that I’ve laid out below.

If you cannot, remain here at level three until you can achieve a 30-second hold without too much fatigue.

Keep in mind that just because you are doing planks, it doesn’t mean that you can do them correctly. The dowel is a simple method of telling you how good your planks really are.

Once you’ve mastered the basic plank with the dowel, you no longer need to use the dowel.

Plank Progressions

Now that you understand what is required to perform an optimal fundamental plank, I can show you the complete progression spectrum from beginner to advanced planks. Once you can maintain optimal alignment here for required times, move on to the next level.

Screen Shot 2021-01-28 at 2.10.59 PM

Level

Plank Progression Exercise

Sets & Time

Notes

1

Half-Kneeling Elbow Plank

2x1min

On knees & elbows

2

Traditional Plank

2x :45 sec

On elbows & toes

3

Push-up Plank

2x :45 sec

Push-up position

4

Plank w/ Leg Lift

2x :20 sec

Push-up position

5

Plank w/ Arm Lift

2x :20 sec

Push-up position

6

Half-Kneeling Side Elbow Plank

2x1min (R/L)

On knee & elbow, hip up, x1 min—R/L

7

Elbow Side Plank

2x :45 sec

On elbow & foot

8

Up/Down Plank

2x :30 sec

Alternating elbow plank to push-up plank continuously

9

Decline Plank

2x :45 sec

On elbows & toes with feet elevated

10

Plank w/Knee to Chest (March)

2x1 min total

Pull knee up to chest & alt R/L every 10-15 secs

11

Side Plank w/ Knee to Chest (March)

2x1 min total

Pull knee up to chest & alt R/L side after 30 secs

12

Side Plank w/ Leg Abduction

2x1 min total

Leg straight and extended upward & alt R/L side after 30 secs

13

Bird-Dog Static Plank

2x:30 sec

Push-up position, bring opposite elbow to knee touching underneath hips and hold (R/L)

14

Bird-Dog Active Plank

2x:30 sec

Push-up position, bring opposite elbow to knee touching underneath hips and then actively extend same arm/leg out and back to touching (R/L) & repeat

15

1-Arm Rotating Plank to Side Plank

2x:30 sec

Starting a traditional plank, take one arm/hand and reach for opposite armpit. Then actively rotate to a side plank and extend the arm to the sky & rotate back to plank (R/L) & repeat

16

Wall Plank

 

On elbows & toes—feet against the wall & elevated

17

Wall Plank w/ Knee to Chest (March)

2x 1 min total

Feet on wall—pull knee up to chest & Alt R/L every 10-15 secs

18

Wall Plank w/ Bird-Dog Static Plank

2x :30sec

Feet on wall—push-up position, bring opposite elbow to knee touching underneath hips and hold (R/L)

 

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This blog was written by Michael Blume, MS, SCCC; Athletic Performance Coach. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

 

 

Topics: workouts plank workout programs