The plank is one of the best exercises to build core strength. Here is a variation every first responder needs to do.
As firefighters and first responders we routinely are tasked with crawling (search), carrying (patients and gear), dragging and pulling (hoseline), and climbing (stairs). All these tasks usually need to be completed in a short period of time and in unbalanced position and various planes of motion. The one common thread to completing all these tasks is a solid functional body and core.
Your core is made up of several muscle groups and covers your abdominals, back, hips, pelvis, and glutes. A weak core can cause all kinds of problems for first responders. It can lead to poor posture, to neck and shoulder pain even sore knees and hips. But the biggest issue with core weakness is low back pain. Back muscles and your core help to stabilize your body before any movement. If your core is weak, the other surrounding muscles must compensate. Over time, these muscles can suffer strain, which leads to lingering pain AND a decrease in performance and/or injury.
A solid and strong core is the key to better performance and career longevity for first responders. One of the best exercises to promote functional core strength is the plank! I can hear the moans… Love it or hate it, the plank builds core strength, promote balance, and encourage solid posture. And they are an extremely “functional” exercise for first responders, which means that they mimic movement that we perform throughout the day on the fire/ rescue scene.
By now you have probably tried the plank in some variation. This movement and exercise is a common stable in almost every fitness program, group class and/or yoga routine. I like to incorporate planks and variations of planks in all our FRF Workout Programs.
There are literally hundreds of different variations of the plank: side, rotational, incline, decline, walking, marching, wall… the list goes on and on. With so many variations, how do you know which is the best kind for first responders? Ove the past few months I have been researching and developing a plank variation that has proven to be very functional and effective for improving my performance and overall core strength. I believe every firefighter, EMT, medic and first responder should incorporate this plank variation into their workout.
Try this FRF 8-Point Plank Version during your next workout.
Start in the Push-up Plank Position
Step 1: Touch right hand to left shoulder
Step 2: Left hand to right shoulder
Step 3: Right Forearm to the floor
Step 4: Left Forearm to floor
Step 5: Right arm back to push-up plank position
Step 6: Left arm back to push-up plank position
Step 7: Touch right hand to left foot (keep your foot stationary)
Step 8: Touch left hand to right foot (keep your foot stationary)
That is one rep!
Try to complete 5 to 15 reps. Over time you will notice improved mobility and strength in your shoulders and in your hips and abs.
Incorporate this movement into your next workout.
Let me know your thoughts.
Time to get FRF (Fire Rescue Fit),
Aaron Zamzow (Zam)
Right now, FRF is offering a FREE program that incorporates and teaches you how to utilize exercises like the 8-point plank. The program also includes exercise tutorials, workout calendar, eating guidelines, and access to the FRF tracking app. This is a Free program for all front-line responders.