TRAINING STRENGTH PROGRAM TRAINING
PLANK (BRIDGE) TRAINING
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GRANT JENKINS Grant is a highly sought-after strength and conditioning coach who has had international success with both elite and developmental athletes. He has recently trained two consecutive Queensland Junior Sports Stars of the Year. Follow him on Twitter @Grant_Jenkins
Aside from the crazy fad of planking in bizarre or dangerous locations, if you were to observe where people exercise, at some point you’d almost definitely see the bridge (or plank) performed.
THE MOVEMENT – as an exercise, not as a stunt – exploded after Professor Stuart McGill’s work was popularised in the mainstream press. Before long it wasn’t uncommon to see people holding the bridge for several minutes, as trainers aimed to improve the muscle endurance of their clients’ trunk stabilisers. Below are three progressions for bridge or plank training, which will enhance the challenge, make it more dynamic, and even a bit fun and competitive. Enjoy!
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Progression 1: The 3-point bridge Start off in the regular position. Slowly raise one arm off the ground and place it behind the back. The idea is to do this while keeping the back and hips as level as possible. Hold this position for fifteen seconds on each side and build up from there. When changing hands, be sure to do so slowly, so as to retain control. TIP FOR YOUR TRAINER: Have your PT add a small plate (1.25kg) so that it will fall off when you twist too much. This will provide direct and immediate feedback.
Progression 2: Bridge and pull
TIP FOR YOUR TRAINER: Using the light weight is optional, especially if there is a large amount of hip and spinal rotation.
Progression 3: Tug-o-war This is where the fun begins. Get someone else to take part with you and lie head-tohead, about a metre apart, with a resistance band between you both. Each hold the band, making sure that there is tension in it. At the signal you both need to pull the band until your hand is as close to their shoulder as you can get it (and vice versa). The winner will be the last one maintaining the 3-point bridge with their hand close to their shoulder. Again, you can use a light plate to minimise the rotation. TIP FOR YOUR TRAINER: Using a resistance band is better than something that is nonelastic (e.g., a rope) because the aim is not to pull the opposition over, but to outlast them.
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Wrap a light resistance band around an inanimate object and, in the 3-point bridge position, pull the band towards the shoulder in a controlled manner with the free hand. Ideally adjust the band so you can pull the band through a large range of movement. Aim to complete five repetitions to start with and build to 10 reps.