Back to RKC Basics with the Plank Position

by Corey Howard on February 27, 2013

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Those of us that make our living in the fitness profession suffer from ADD with our own training.

Generally speaking we are always in a hurry to move on to the next progression in whatever it is we are trying to do rather than pay our dues perfecting the basics. Sometimes we even try to advance our clients before they are fundamentally ready. Many of us talk about practicing movement but I would argue we need to consistently spend time practicing the fundamental techniques, skills and movements. For example how many of us still incorporate the RKC plank into our own practice sessions?

When I went through the RKC we were taught the plank. You all know it by now… butt tight, quads tight, fists clenched, feet together and pull your elbows to your feet without actually moving. For those of you that know the “Hartle Plank”, developed by the brilliant and strong chiropractor Dr. Michael Hartle, you know there are a few more cue’s that will amp it up a bit more.

Let’s first look at this from a structural stand point. Imagine your body is similar to the framing of a large city building. Then at the top of this structure we’re going to put a crane so we can create more levels.

How much support will that crane have if a few of the steel beams were replaced with overcooked spaghetti noodles?

You simply can’t press heavy weight overhead if parts of the supporting structure are overcooked spaghetti noodles! Likewise with bodyweight strength training, imagine performing a handstand push-up if you’re body is a wet dishrag from the waist on down? If you ask any successful competitive powerlifter about their benchpress technique they will first explain how tight, solid and locked down they are during the press. They create a solid, tight, strong stable base from which to press.

The RKC plank will carry over to a ton of different movements, kettlebell, conventional powerlifting, and bodyweight strength training. After spending several years powerlifting I went to the RKC and was taught the plank is how your body should look at the top of your swing, or under a load as you press heavy stuff overhead. The plank is a tension skill, not a silly youtube clip of you laying on top of a taxi cab.

Now with the huge interest in bodyweight strength training the RKC plank has become even more important. For those of you that have attempted a one arm one leg push-up or even dared to try a front lever, you know already you need to create a ton of total body tension to successfully achieve any of these feats. Think about it, there are elements of the plank in pull-ups, push-ups, pistol squats, front levers, human flags, kettlebell swings, deadlifts, loaded carries, presses, cleans, and many other movements.

Rather than jumping into our session after our warm up maybe it’s time we perfect our basic skills?

Please consider this, those of you that enjoy baseball, do you have any idea how professional hitters train and work on their swing? They use a tee! No matter what level you’re at we all need to polish up on our basic skills and the RKC plank is arguably one of the most basic skills with the most carry over! Fire it up!

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Corey Howard, RKC: As the owner and founder of Results PT, Corey started the company in 2004 out of his house, with the goal of creating an energizing atmosphere that’s geared toward the client’s success.  Since 2004 his vision has grown along with the list of clients, and in 2008 he opened Sioux Falls’s first private personal training studio.  Corey has trained and helped many people lose a lot of weight, including a few people that have lost over 100lbs.  He also has experience training fitness figure competitors and pagent girls.  His clients have been featured in local and national magazine articles, appeared on television, and competed nationally.  He originally became a certified personal trainer while living in Minneapolis in 2002 and over the years has created a successful strategy and program that reaps success.  He also has experience in competitive powerlifting and loves total body kettlebell workouts that promote athleticism.  He can be reached at www.resultsptonline.com or www.coreyhoward.com

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  • Randy

    Shouldn’t his head be cervical neutral, too?

  • Awesome article, Corey! I’m guilty of shuffling the lowly plank off to the side in favor of other things, but it’s one of the basics I need to revisit over and over again. You made a strong case for it, and I know what I’m going to start working on again!

  • The RKC plank is a fantastic way to teach students the idea of “zipping up” in their swings and ballistics. The plank in the video above is indeed sloppy. Neck should definitely be more neutral.

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