RKC Plank: The Hardstyle Plank and Total Body Tension

 

Strength in Conditioning for Saturday, December 27, 2014

Almost all athletes are familiar with the front plank, however, very few gym members have heard of the RKC plank.  The traditional front plank is great for learning how to align and stabilize the spine.  Once an athlete is able to hold a regular plank with good form – there is a more challenging plank that has many benefits over the traditional version.

The RKC Plank (Hardstyle Plank)

Pavel Tsatsouline started the Russian Kettlebell Challenge (“RKC”), an advanced kettlebell training certification, with Dragon Door in 2001.  In 2012 Pavel left RKC and formed a new company called StrongFirst.  A major tenet of kettlebell training is a concept called whole body tension.  While regular planks are held for a prolonged period of time to improve endurance – the RKC plank is held for a brief period of time to increase activation of the abdominals, glutes, and quadriceps – to increase strength.

The expression of maximal strength is the foundation for powerlifting and Olympic lifting movements like the squat, deadlift, clean & jerk, and snatch.

The plank is one of the most incorrectly performed exercises in the gym.  Spinal alignment and diaphragmatic breathing are two key points of the plank.  Before progressing to the RKC Plank here are some common plank mistakes.

Common Plank Mistakes

  1. Arching the Low-Back
  2. Letting the Head Hang
  3. Hips Too High (DownDog Position)

“When the upper back is rounded, the main focus of the movement is on the neck and shoulders versus the abs. When the butt is sticking up, the main stabilizers are the lumbar erector spinae and hip flexor complex, not necessarily the entire core.” – Dean Somerset

Components of the RKC Plank

  1. Posterior Pelvic Tilt (Glutes)
  2. Hollow Body Position (Drive Elbows Towards Feet & Feet Towards Elbows)
  3. Extended Knees (Quad Activation)
  4. Ankle Dorsiflexion (Anterior Chain Activation)
  5. Clenched Fists (Scapular Stability)
  6. Progression to Longer Plank (Elbows in Front of Shoulders)

Bret Contreras points out that:

 “The RKC plank has 4x more abdominal, 3x more external oblique, and 2x more internal oblique activity than the standard plank.  The hardstyle plank also has much more glute max activity, teaches proper hip mechanics to prevent lumbar hyperextension, and trains the glute max to stabilize the SI-joint during hip extension movements.”

Dean Somerset explains:

“A plank should be a very intense, full body contraction that lasts only 8-10 seconds, not some bastardized version of a yoga pose you sustain for 10 minutes…Some exercises are direct representations of a plank position, so hitting up a plank beforehand is very helpful, such as planks before push-ups and side planks before lunges.

“A plank is a perfect example of total body tension and co-contractive forces. It’s a battle of near-maximal contractile strength from all areas (shoulders, abs, glutes, low back and quads) to produce a steel beam in human form, able to withstand any external forces.”

- Kevin Kula, “The Flexibility Coach” – Creator of FlexibilityRx™ – www.FlexibilityRx.com

Related Resources

FlexibilityRx: The Plank Roll Exercise
How to REALLY Do a Perfect Plank | RKC School of Strength
Bret Contreras: The RKC Plank
Dean Somerset (T-Nation): Superhuman Planks

RKC-Plank

 

Strength in Conditioning is Coach Sean’s Choice!

‘Twas the Workout Before Christmas…

 

Strength in Conditioning for Wednesday, December 24, 2014

If you want to get a good sweat in before your Christmas Eve festivities, its going to have to be before lunch time, folks. Class times today are at 5:30am and 12pm only. If you get caught up in the holiday bustle and can’t make these times, SICFIT Scottsdale has got your back because this workout can be done at home… that is… after you have completed the 11th day of the 12 Days of Christmas warmup!

And to really get in the holiday spirit, please join us tomorrow at 1pm at North Sight Park for the grand finale of our Christmas Workout Parody!

Happy Holidays, SICFIT Fam!

row workout santa

WARMUP
Foam Roll
PVC
Dynamic Drills
3 Minute Row | 130 Meter Run | 3 Minute Jump Rope
2 Minute Row | 130 Meter Run | 2 Minute Jump Rope
1 Minute Row | 130 Meter Run | 1 Minute Jump Rope
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CONDITIONING
EMOM for 20 Minutes
10 Strict Sit Ups
5 Pushups
5 Air Squats
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The Math and Aftermath of the 12 Days of Xmas Workout

 

Strength in Conditioning for Tuesday, December 23, 2014

If you have been following along with the 12 Days of Christmas workout, keep at it! We’re almost home free! If you continue until the grand finale on Christmas Day, you will have performed….

  • 300 PushupsFullSizeRender
  • 550 Overhead Squats
  • 350 Sit Ups
  • 90 Burpees
  • Ran 3200 Meters (2 Miles)
  • Held Plank for 14 Minutes
  • Held 6″ for 6 Minutes
  • 500 Double Unders or 2500 Single Unders
  • 300 Dips
  • 300 Walking Lunges
  • 40 Handstand Attempts
  • 1 Mile Run

Join your SICFIT Scottsdale family at Northsight Park at 1pm on Christmas day to complete the grand finale of the 12 Days of Christmas workout! In the aftermath, and there is no more work to be done, each and every one of us will have received the greatest Holiday gift of all… the feeling of personal accomplishment!

WARMUP
1k Row @ 50%
Line Drills
Partner Stretch
.
STRENGTH
2-4-6-8-6-4-2
Strict Dip & Strict Pull up
LIFE: Bench Dip & Ring Row or Partner Pull Up
FITNESS: Box Dip & Strict or Partner Pull Up
SPORT: Strict or Weighted Ring Dip & Strict Pull Up or Chest 2 Bar Pull Up
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CONDITIONING
AMRAP for 5 Minutes
LIFE/FITNESS: Box Stairs 20”/24”
SPORT: Box Jump Step Up 30”24”
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SICFIT Scottsdale Athlete of the Month December 2014

“I can guarantee you most of my 50 year old friends can’t say they swing from monkey bars or can do a kipping pull up.”  says Decembers Athlete of the Month at SICFIT Scottsdale Judy Leinweber. A true veteran in the FUNctional FITness world. Judy has improved her overall health and FITness since joining in 2011. Long time family friend and even more seasoned student Deric Andre is the reason why Judy joined SICFIT. “After much hounding I finally decided to take my first class at North-site park, I still remember Coach Jenn D. who is so motivating and inspiring in my head telling me I can do it and not to stop.” When you see Judy in class next week, Give her and Deric a high “5” and say thank you for leading the way! Check out Judy’s interview on how she got started below.

How has training at SICFIT improved your overall health and FITness?

I had been working out with a personal trainer for almost five years prior to joining and never felt the way I do today about fitness. SICFIT has allowed me to progress from life, fitness and now sport. I am challenged emotionally, physically and mentally every class I take at SICFIT Scottsdale.  I truly believe it’s made me a stronger person in all three.

What lessons have you learned about diet and exercise that you can teach your  family?

I honestly am convinced that incorporating fitness and exercise into your daily routine makes a huge difference in a persons life. You don’t have to be a size two or focus on what you weigh, just be happy and healthy. I hope that I have influenced that in my daughter Morgan. Quit the awesome kid if I don’t say so myself!

What made you decide to enter the SICEST of the SOUTHWEST FITness race?

I turn 50 in April of next year. I wanted to do something that I had never done before and step completely out of my box. For me that was the Sicest of the Southwest III. It was a great experience with great people!

SICFIT Scottsdale is the place for me! Thank you to everyone for making it such a family, friendly environment!

IMG_6879

Judy pictured above in Race #3 handling the front squats at #95 with ease.

Below a sneak peak into the event that shook SICFIT Scottsdale
all day long.


Find more videos like this on SICFIT | LIFE | FITNESS | SPORT

So Long Soda: A Message to Our Lil’ Beasts

 

Strength in Conditioning for Saturday, December 20, 2014

As parents and mentors of Lil’ Beasts, we are up against a lot when it comes to teaching them about nutrition and healthy habits. With billions of dollars spent fast food, soda, and junk food advertising a year, its no wonder that getting our kiddos to trade the potato chips for carrot sticks and soda pop for coconut water can be so difficult!

But SICFIT Scottsdale has got your back on this! Sit your Lil’ Beast down in front of this cartoon and watch it together. Laugh with them at all the silly things the characters do and then help them to understand the real message behind the clip. Ask them questions to help them relate the message to their own lives and experiences. Bring these Lil’ Beast characters to life in your home and let them be your sidekicks in teaching your Beast and Beastette how to make healthy choices!

WARMUP
Foam roll
PVC
.
STRENGTH
5 Rounds
Bench Press
Kettle Bell or Dumbbell Single Arm Row
1 Minute Plank
2 Minute Walking Rest
.
CONDITIONING
20-15-10-5
Kettle Bell Swing
Pull Up
10’ 20’ 30’  Shuttle Run
LIFE: Ring Row & Russian Swing
FITNESS: As RX
SPORT: 70/53 & Chest to Bar Pull Up
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Holiday Schedule Reminder

 

Strength in Conditioning for Friday, December 19, 2014

Just a quick reminder to our awesome and dedicated SICFIT Scottsdale athletes that we will have limited hours throughout the rest of Holiday season. They are as follows:

  • December 24th: 5:30am and 12pm Classes Only.
  • December 25th: Gym Closed. Meet at North Sight Park at 1pm for 12 Days of Xmas Workout!
  • December 26th: Gym Closed.
  • December 31st: 5:30am and 12pm Classes Only.
  • January 1st: 10am-2pm Open Gym Only.

 

We hope you are able to wriggle in some time for your training on these days. But if not, here are a few of our at-home workouts from the SICFIT Home for the Holidays Booklet. Check your copy for more workout ideas to get your sweat on at home!
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SICFIT Holiday Workouts Guide

WARMUP
Partner Stretch
.
SKILL
Double Under Practice
Find Max Double Unders
.
STRENGTH
Deadlift
10-8-6-4-2 Building Sets
LIFE: Kettle Bell Deadlift
.
CONDITIONING 
1 Minute Stations
Indoor Sled Push
Jumping/Walking/Stationary <unge
Jump Rope
Box Step Up
Rest
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The ‘W’ Exercise – No Money Drill

 

Strength in Conditioning for Thursday, Decemerb

The ‘W’ exercise involves a combination of three motions that place the arms in a ending position that looks like a ‘W’ from behind.  This great shoulder exercise is sometimes referred to as the ‘no money’ drill because it places the arms in a, “Hey don’t look at me – I don’t have your money” position.

 

The-W-Exercise

 

The ‘W’ Exercise is a combination of scapular retraction and posterior tilt as the arms externally rotate.

Instructions

The arms start out in front with the forearms parallel to the thighs – if you hold your arms out in front the elbows are bent to ninety degrees and the wrists will be inline with the knees.  It is important to keep the neck neutral (chin tucked) and maintain thoracic extension (chest forward).  As you perform the three combined motions (see instructions 1-3) the forearms will move out to the sides (external rotation) as the scapular posteriorly tilts and retracts.

Scapular Retraction & Posterior Tilt

Retraction involves drawing the scapula in towards the spine.  Posterior tilt sets the scapula flat on the ribcage.  If you round your shoulders forward you can feel the bottom part of the shoulder blade stick out away from the ribcage (winging) as it anteriorly tilts into a bad position.  If you visualize the scapula as an upside down triangle, posterior tilt involves driving the bottom ‘pointy’ part forward so it lays flat on the ribcage.

The graphic below shows good retraction and posterior tilt of the scapula – as the shoulder blade rests flush against the ribcage.  The illustration on the right shows an anteriorly tilted shoulder blade that is also restricting shoulder flexion.

 

Shoulder-Flexion

 

External Rotation of the Arms

External rotation in this position involves moving the forearms out to the side.  It is important to not try to pull the band apart, but to drive the movement from the shoulder blade in coordination with the external rotation of the arms.  Good external rotation of the shoulders is important for pressing overhead and the overhead squat.

Strengthening the Lower Trapezius

While it is important to include a variety of exercises to enhance scapular stability Mike Reinold points out that the ‘W’ exercise is one of the best exercises to balance lower and upper trapezius strength.

He explains,

“In the opinion of the authors, poor posture and muscle imbalance often seen in patients with a variety of shoulder pathologies is often the result of poor muscle balance between the upper and lower trapezius, with the upper trapezius being more dominant. McCabe et al report that bilateral ER at 0° abduction resulted in the greatest lower trapezius-upper trapezius ratio compared to several other similar trapezius exercises.”

Related Resources

Mike Reinold: The Shoulder W Exercise (link)
Mike Reinold: Two Exercises You Need in Every Program (link)
Tony Gentilcore: EXERCISES YOU SHOULD BE DOING: NO-MONEY DRILL (link)
Current Concepts in the Scientific and Clinical Rationale Behind Exercises for Glenohumeral and Scapulothoracic Musculature
.

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WARMUP
5 Rounds
5 Tempo Pushup 40×1
5 Tempe Pull Up 40×1
5 Tempo Dip 40×1
45 Second Rest
.
STRENGTH
5 Rounds
10 Double KBor DB Walking Lunges
2-10 Strict Sit Ups
Walk Indoor Lap
FITNESS & SPORT: Front Rack
LIFE: Hold Weight by Side
.
CONDITIONING
100 Calorie Row for Time

.

 

 

New Year, New You Fitness Challenge!

 

This is 2015! Time for a New Year, New You! This is an in house Fitness Challenge designed for all levels to participate! SICFIT Scottsdale invites you to be a part of the fun yet challenging workout to test your physical fitness in two parts. First workout will be on January 24th at 12pm and we will test your time and division you are in. The finals will be February 21st at 12pm, same workout and the most improved time in each division will win a prize!


fitness challenge flyer (2)
Click HERE to sign up NOW!

 

Smokin’ Private Training Deal for 2015

 

Strength in Conditioning for Wednesday, December 17, 2014

SICFIT Scottsdale’s Private Coaching sessions have helped students achieve countless goals: everything from weight loss, to PRing their Olympic Lifts, to rehabbing and strengthening old injuries. Put your fitness goals for 2015 on the fast track by taking advantage of our smokin’ promotional personal training offer: 3 sessions for just $99! Perhaps you want to share the gift of Strength in Conditioning FITness with a family member or friend and purchase this deal for them as well!

 

WARMUP
Lunge Complex
Up Down Dog
Air Squat
Arm Swings
Bottom of Squat Hold for 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, and 60 Seconds
.
OLYMPIC WEIGHTLIFTING
Clean Progression
3-5 Min rest
.
CONDITIONING
EMOM for 10 Minutes
LIFE: 10 Hang Power Cleans
FITNESS: 5 Hang Power Cleans
SPORT: 5 Squat Cleans 185/125
With remaining time perform as many burpees as possible
.

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