Fundamental to your success as a triathlete is building a strong core. Your core is the foundation of movement and includes the muscles that control and stabilise your pelvis, spine and kinetic chain; these comprise of shoulders, abdominals, pelvic floor, hip girdle & gluteal muscles.
The elbow plank is a great exercise to help strengthen the core and build body stability for running, cycling and swimming. This exercise can be used throughout your training cycle and you can add progressions by increasing duration, number of sets and including variations.
How to perform an elbow plank
• Lie face down in a prone position.
• Place forearms on the ground. Elbows should be aligned with your shoulders. Toes stay on the ground.
• Raise hips off the floor by tightening the abdominal muscles and glutes.
• Keep a neutral spine and neck and create a straight line from head to toes.
• Hold position. Do not let hips sag down. Maintain a neutral spine and neck.
To start with aim to hold the plank for 15 seconds, then work your way up to 30, 45, 60 seconds.
Repeat for 3-5 sets with 20 or 30 second rests in between.
Once you have built enough strength you can add more progressions by including plank variations such as the stability ball plank using the same principles.
Benefits of the Plank
- Improves posture
- Improves balance & coordination
- Improves body alignment
- Reduces the risk of injury
- Builds core strength
- Improves flexibility
- Relieves stress
- Helps to keep you healthy throughout life
- Improves athletic performance
The list goes on, so if you are not already planking you should seriously consider adding it to your exercise routine.