So, there’s a little story behind this one. I spend a lot of time helping beginner and seasoned trainee’s with their questions about health, fitness, and training at the Burn The Fat: Inner Circle fat loss support community. I’ve been a contributor and forum moderator there since 2006, and in that time I’ve met some pretty cool people. I’ll be honest and up front when I say that one of my personal favorite members is a woman named Jan, who is the ring leader of the Siffer-Ladies!
The front elbow plank sans grimacing face.
Now, don’t let the cutesy name fool you – these ladies are not your average gym trainee’s. When I picture the Siffer-Ladies showing up at the gym, it’s like an old Western movie where everyone clears out of the bar when the outlaws arrive. The Siffer-Ladies are notorious fitness outlaws! While the so-called “civilized” women are barely breaking a sweat on the Elliptical machine while watching Oprah, the Siffer-Ladies are cranking out endless reps of alligator crawls, ab wheel rollouts, pushups, pullups and partner wheelbarrow walking. They’re hardcore – pure and simple. Some people in their gym even think they’re crazy (I can relate to that!).
Jan has been somewhat of a training disciple of mine and she’s built some pretty impressive fitness levels over the years using mostly bodyweight training. You see, Jan is a lifestyle fitness trainee. She’s found something that works for her, and she’s been sticking with it for years. She trains because she loves it… in a sick sort of way (again, I can relate!).
Every once in awhile, the Siffer-Ladies come up with some crazy idea like holding a plank for 5 minutes straight. I don’t know what possesses them… it’s like they just have an insatiable hunger for self-inflicted torment and indescribable agony – and I give in every time. Jan contacted me a couple weeks ago asking for advice about getting from 3 minutes to a 5 minute plank. After offering her some suggestions, I’ve been thinking about it ever since. I’ve never had any of my clients do a plank for longer than 3 minutes, and I’ve never done one longer than that either. It’s uncharted territory. So, you know me… I just had to know if I could do it myself!
I’ll be honest, I had my doubts if I’d be able to complete the 5 minute plank test since I haven’t done any specific plank training in years, but I set my mind to the task and here’s what it looked like…
The 5 Minute Plank For Core Strength, Stability, and Rock-Hard Abs
In part 1 and part 2 of this series, I covered plank and rotation exercises. In this video, we are going to go over something a little more familiar – the more traditional ab exercise, the abdominal crunch. I’m going to teach you a more sophisticated version, because regular old crunches just don’t have the training effect I want.
Regular crunches have a few qualities that I don’t like…
1) they create residual muscle tension, instead of relaxing the body
2) they increase your blood pressure needlessly
3) they are only comprised of a very shallow range of motion
4) they only focus on one degree of movement freedom – moving forward
5) they don’t include antagonist muscles (the lower back)
The sophisticated ab crunches I will be teaching you eliminate all of the above concerns, and they teach you to integrate your breathing, structure, and movement. These exercises are far superior to the traditional ab crunch and reverse crunch.
Last week, I posted the first video in our core strengthening exercises series. If you missed it, check it out here.
Today’s core strengthening exercise video is all about training rotational movements. The first thing that may come to mind is the oblique and the serratus anterior muscles (the little finger-like muscles on the sides of your ribs) – but practicing rotation involves a host of muscle groups. Each exercise I teach in this video is full-body in nature, and that’s how I recommend you approach core strengthening exercises. Train all of the body, all the time.
Here is a video with three different core strengthening exercises.
Rotational Core Strengthening Exercises by John Sifferman