Ab exercises – there’s a hundred and one of them, but not all of them work the same way! Aside from optimising nutrition to achieve a lean physique, having standout abs also depends on how well you train them. When it comes to building a great set of abs, function begets form. Improve their ability to perform and you will see results!
The abdominals are part of what is known as the “core” musculature, which also comprise the back, glutes and obliques. While trunk flexion is one of primary functions of the abdominals, its application in athletics is that of assisting force transfer. Essentially, the ability to maintain a rigid and compact core is what enables an athlete to run faster, jump higher and produce more power. When it comes to training this “pillar” effect, the bodyweight plank comes as a simple yet effective choice.
Most are already familiar with plank movements (high, low, side, RKC) and how demanding it can be on not just the abdominals, but the entire core as well. When it comes to progression, a common approach is to either add weight or increase the time under tension. However, adding a dynamic element to this otherwise static movement can be just as effective. The plank slideout (aka. body saw) is a challenging variation of the RKC-style plank which tests your ability to maintain a stiff core under moving conditions.
Location and equipment courtesy of TripleFit
Much like the RKC plank, the key to making the plank slideout effective is full-body tension. Gripping your hands together while squeezing the glutes and flexing the quads while allow force irradiation all the way from top to bottom. While performing the plank slideout, it is essential that you don’t allow your hips to pike up or dip. Your shoulders should also remain stable (ie. tucked down and squeezed) throughout the movement. Keep the movement in your shoulders as you “saw” your body up and down along the floor.
For those just starting out, sets of 10 would be a good starting point for you to familiarise yourself with the movement. As you gain proficiency, you can increase the number of reps to as high as 20 to build muscular endurance. If your goal is to achieve a more metabolic effect, you can stick with sets of 10 and do as many as you need to exhaust the abdominals. Doing the slideout on one leg can also add an unstable element to the movement, and can be useful if balance training is required.
While the plank slideout should ideally be performed on slideboards/Valslides, sheet plastic on a smooth flooring can be used as well. If you ever thought that planks were too boring to be effective, consider replacing it with this variation instead. A word of caution: you’ll DEFINITELY feel it after the first few sessions!