Move of the Week: Knee-Pull Plank
The knee-pull plank is a fantastic movement. It requires no equipment, so you can take it anywhere you go. The aim of the exercise is to build core strength. Your abdominals will get a good workout, and the exercise will also help build strength and endurance in your upper body.
Start on all fours. Concentrate on engaging your deep core muscles. Your focus should be on this area of your body while you perform the movement.
Extend your feet one at a time behind you so you are resting your weight between both feet and hands. This sets you up in the plank pose.
• Exhale as you bring your right knee into your chest.
• Inhale as you replace it back on the floor.
• Exhale as you bring your left knee toward your chest.
• Inhale as you place it back on the floor. That is one complete repetition of the exercise.
• Repeat this between 10 and 20 times or until your body starts to feel fatigue.
This movement is different from the mountain-climber exercise where you are in the same position but are quickly alternating your knees to your chest. That exercise is more cardio-focused. This one is more strength-focused. Keep the movements slow and precise.
In the plank position, your back needs to be straight. If you are unable to check your alignment in a mirror, I highly recommend getting a friend or family member to check to see if your spine is straight.
Avoid sticking your buttocks up in the air or letting your lower back sink down toward the floor. Hunching your shoulders is also something to avoid. If you feel any strain in your back, neck, or shoulders, be sure to stop immediately and stretch.
To vary the movement, take your right knee toward your left shoulder and vice versa. This will bring your obliques into the exercise.
If you are just starting out with an exercise program, you can modify the exercise by working from your knees. This will introduce the movement to your body and allow you to work safely within your means. When you start to develop more strength, you can take the exercise up a notch and work from your toes.
To increase the intensity after you have performed one set, follow the knee pulls with a set of pushups.
Emma-Kate Stampton certifies Pilates instructors and is a certified personal trainer. She is based in Brisbane, Australia.