If you’ve already mastered the forearm plank, you should definitely consider the weighted plank as a way to progress it.
Popularly known as the loaded plank, this exercise offers a way to advance the plank without involving any change in movement patterns.
However, before you get started, note that you’re going to have to take extra precaution with this variation because it involves placing a weight on a very vulnerable part of your body – the back.
Also , you may need a spotter to make sure the weight is placed in the right position.
To learn the proper form, pay attention to these steps:
- Assume a table-top position; knees and palms on the floor, shoulders over your wrists and hips over the knees.
- Have someone place a weight carefully on your upper back (between your shoulders). For this exercise, a weight plate or sandbag would suit you best since they don’t move around easily.
- Keeping your core tight, extend one leg slowly behind you, followed by the other. This will get you into the push-up position.
- Make sure your head is neutral and your entire body is in a straight line.
- Come down slowly and rest your bodyweight on your forearms, with your shoulders stacked over your elbows.
- At the top position, squeeze your glutes to engage your core some more.
- Hold for a few seconds and reverse the steps slowly until you get back to where you began.
- Have someone remove the weight.
WHAT MUSCLES DOES THE WEIGHTED PLANK WORK?
The weighted plank mainly works two muscles in your core: the rectus abdominis and transverse abdominis.
The rectus abdominis (six-pack muscle) enables spinal flexion. It is contracted during this exercise to prevent spinal extension.
The transverse abdominis is located under the rectus abdominis, and its function is to stabilize your core during every movement.
Squeezing your glutes at the top position helps contract your core muscles to provide more stability as you hold the weight on your back.
BENEFITS OF THE WEIGHTED PLANK
As a beginner in strength training, basic planks are a great bodyweight movement option that can help you build muscle in your core.
But once your body gets accustomed to them, you may need something more than just your bodyweight to keep building muscle.
When you get to that point, the weighted plank will help you continue building muscle mass without having to change much in the exercise.
When done correctly, this exercise strengthens and stabilizes the muscles responsible for a good posture such as the erector spinae and core muscles.
A good posture helps decompress your spine, which in turn alleviates pain in your lower back and neck.
INCREASES BONE DENSITY
Strength training exercises like the weighted plank put a lot of pressure on your bones, which then strengthens them and increases their density over time.
This could be particularly beneficial to aging women, as they are at most risk of losing bone mass through a process known as osteoporosis.
ALTERNATIVES TO THE WEIGHTED PLANK
DUMBBELL SIDE PLANK HIP RAISE
This is another way to make the forearm plank more challenging.
The dumbbell side plank hip raise specifically targets the muscles on the sides of your abdomen since you perform it while lying on one side.
- Grab a dumbbell with your right hand and lie on the floor on your left side.
- Press your forearm to the ground and place your elbow underneath your left shoulder.
- Extend your legs and stack them over each other from foot to hip.
- Lift your hips and knees off the ground.
- Holding the dumbbell in your right hand, place it on your hip. This marks the beginning of your rep.
- Tighten your core and lower the hips to the floor before raising them as high as you can again. This is a complete rep.
- Do as many reps as possible.
BIRD DOG DUMBELL PLANK
The bird dog dumbbell plank strengthens your core and back with the help of two dumbbells.
- Get a mat and roll it on the floor.
- Assume a table-top position on the mat and place a dumbbell in front of you.
- Squeeze your core and keep your spine as straight as possible.
- Grab the weight with your left hand using an overhand grip. The right hand should be holding another dumbbell on the ground.
- Raise your left arm to the front and the right leg behind you until both limbs are parallel to the floor.
- With your core still tight, pause for 10 seconds.
- Switch to the other side and repeat as many times as you want.
WEIGHTED PLANK MISTAKES TO AVOID
From the time you get into the quadrupled position to when you finish and have the weight removed, your gaze should be fixed on the floor.
Moving your head around or jutting it forward could strain and put unnecessary pressure on your neck muscles, causing neck pain.
USING HEAVY WEIGHT
The weight you place on your back shouldn’t be so heavy that you cannot comfortably hold it on your back while maintaining proper form.
Choose a light weight at first then you can switch to a heavier one later when you feel strong enough to bear a larger load on your back.
NOT BRACING YOUR CORE
Like every other plank, the weighted plank requires that your core remains tight throughout the movement.
This way, your body will have enough stability to keep the weight in place when you are in the plank and push-up position.
TO SUM UP
The weighted plank sure does carry with it a certain degree of risk but such is not certain, especially if you maintain proper form.
Some people do it alone by positioning and removing the weight with one hand as the other remains on the ground.
While this may be convenient as it eliminates the need for a spotter, it is quite dangerous especially if you are still new to the exercise.
If you can, have a partner watch you and help load the weight and remove it when you’re done.
Risk of injury aside, the weighted plank is a fantastic way to make your plank challenging without needing much.