Life can get more complicated as you get older. But that should not prevent you from being at the top of your game. Here are some answers to tough training questions that can come with age.
When I meet older clients like myself—the very first thing many of them show me is their plank form. It seems like it is a badge of honor to be older than a certain age and be capable of pulling off a solid, steady plank. Many of them are good at it, needing just a few tweaks to get their form perfect. But I always try to help them take their core training on to the next level with multiple variations. The plank is harder on your core than it seems and adding extra element like a reach variation could activate more muscles and also elevate the intensity of the workout.
To set up for a plank reach, transition into a low plank position by laying on your belly. Raise your upper body by positioning your elbows just below your shoulder with your forearms being flat on the floor. Place the balls of your feet on the ground about shoulder width apart. From that position you will be able to raise your belly off the floor so that your body will be in a straight line from the head to heels.
Perform the reach variation by raising your left arm up as if you are trying to tap an object in front of you. Hold and maintain that position for two to four seconds, then you can return the left arm to the initial position. Repeat these steps with your right arm. That is one rep.
As you will note, as you are raising your left arm to reach forward, the mobility of your shoulder is tested immediately. For a lot of older males raising that arm up so that it is in line with your legs and your upper body is harder than you would expect. That movement will really test your deltoid strength and lat flexibility.
The next test is with your right arm that is grounded. As you are fighting to keep your left side of the body elevated, some anti-rotation is in play. You will feel your glutes, abs and lower body much more engaged than when both your elbows were on the ground. Another thing is you must fight to keep your body from sliding too much from side to side as you perform the reps. Just about everyone will slide a little to maintain their balance and stability while doing the first few repetitions, but your challenge will be to slide less as you are continuing to perfect the exercise.
In this seemingly easy plank variation, there is a lot more going on than what you see. Ultimately, the key to successfully performing the plank reach is focusing on full body tension with your shoulder blades, abs and glutes squeezed as tight as you can. If you feel that you need an added challenge, you might also lengthen the time of the reach and/or hold a light weight in each of your hands as you reach forward. To begin go into the plank position and attempt five reaches with each of your arms. Do not rush the reaches. Try to take it nice and slow.