As we start back in the new season it would be good to start getting some routine exercises alongside Thursday (and Sunday) training, so to help we’re going to give you some tips each week to help build some workouts that hopefully you’ll be able to find time for.
Important note, this isn’t a competition to see who can do the most of any exercise. Everyone’s got different strengths and abilities, but efficient muscles developed through good technique trumps big muscles built through poor technique in most circumstances.
This week, just one tip that’ll help build up your core from two different angles. When you’re doing a press-up or a plank the primary muscle group is the abdominals, plus the chest for the press-ups and glutes (bum) for the plank. The key to get the maximum benefit in those abdominals is to keep your body straight – when you’re doing either exercise, you should be able to draw a straight line from your ankles (or your knees*) through your hips to your shoulders.
As soon as you drop your hips or stick your bottom in the air, to make the exercise easier, then the exercise becomes less effective.
It’s better to do a small number of press-ups well (with a straight body), rather than twenty press-ups by bending your back and bobbing your arms up & down.
Start with straight arms and straight body… Then keep your arms near to your torso and to lower your body until your arms are bent to 90 degrees.
Keep the press-ups slow and controlled, the movement should be no faster than one second down and one second up.
Likewise with a plank, it’s all about a straight body…
Rather than trying a plank challenge and holding a poor position for five minutes, start with sets of 20 seconds holding a good plank position, followed by 20 seconds rest, before repeating that. Five minutes of those sort of plank intervals will start to build your core muscles, and you’ll barely notice where the time went. Twenty seconds means that you can concentrate on holding that straight position and focusing on those core (abdominal) muscles.
Hopefully this helps you all to start getting good form into those press-ups and planks. In Part Two we’ll start giving some variations on these basics.
*Note – There’s an option to do press-ups or planks from your knees, rather than your feet. That’s absolutely fine, but I’d suggest that for press-ups, you do the up movement from your knees, then stretch your legs out and do the lower on your feet. You’ll be getting a bigger benefit from the lowering action – it’s called eccentric contraction and has very positive benefits on building muscle.
Note for anyone stumbling across these on the web… These tips are aimed at a specific group of Under 15 rugby players. We know their strengths and weaknesses, and work with them on a weekly basis, so can monitor how this advice works for them. So please don’t ‘borrow’ these tips, unless you’re suitably qualified and you’re in frequent contact with the players you’re advising.