Pressurize Your Anatomical Inner Tube
Push Up Position Planks
The center of the body is a cylindrical tube of interwoven muscle and fascia. On the top and bottom, you have the diaphragm and pelvic floor. The sides are reinforced by the oblique muscles and across the front by the rectus and tranverse abdominus muscles. These muscles work together to create pressure inside the cylinder. The tension capacity of our “anatomical inner tube” allows us to lift, carry, push, and pull loads that would overwhelm any single joint in the spine. Developing better tension strength will improve athleticism and reduce injuries. One of the best exercises to improve tension strength is the Push Up Position Plank.
Push Up Position Planks – PUPP
Place the hands under the shoulders with the elbows extended. Pull your shoulder blades down your back and keep your neck long. Lift your pelvis so that your body is supported on the feet and hands. Pull the legs together and lift up onto the balls of the feet. Your body is held in one long line from the ears to the ankles. Do not let your hips sink or rise up—check your position in a mirror. Create an isometric external rotation force in the shoulders by screwing the hands into the floor. Imagine you are crushing oranges in your armpits. Now squeeze the legs together and pull the hands toward the toes. Hold that position for twenty seconds and work up to longer durations. A good goal is a thirty-second high tension PUPP.
Elevated Feet-Push Up Position Plank
Once you can hold a solid thirty second push up position plank with the feet on the floor, progress to elevating the feet on a step or exercise bench for more resistance. Work up to a thirty-second hold.
In rehab, we use push up position planks to help patients recover function in their neck, shoulders, lumbar spine, and pelvis. For the fitness client, try putting two or three sets of PUPPs between pulling exercises. Watch the demonstrations and give the push up position plank a try.
View video here
Michael S. O’Hara, PT, OCS, CSCS