The Perfect Plank

Well, the votes are in, and salmon is the most popular fish. SO fun reading over all your favourite kinds! Mostly because I got ideas on new kinds I need to try, including walleye, sea bass, flounder, croaker, stingray and trigger.  Shellfish and other seafood is a whole other story. We will be revisiting this issue for sure! ;)

My family was up late last night, and I was actually in bed before my mom and Mark. I thought for sure I’d sleep in past 7am today. Little did I realize, my poodle also doubles as an alarm clock.


I may have been prepared to sleep past 7am, but this furball most certainly was not. I awoke much too early to the feeling of a wet nose on my face. He was wagging his little bum and rearing to go. Okay poodle. You win this time. But you didn’t need to pass out on my lap after I let you outside. Salt in the wound.

Needless to say, it was a pancake kind of morning.


My new Dairy-Free (ish) Pancakes.


Janetha asked about the nutritionals on these, and without the added Benefibre, they’re 247 calories, 6.6g fat, 9g fibre, 20g carbs and 32g protein.


I also cooked in a tbsp each of flaked coconut and walnut pieces. Oh, and I added 1/2 tsp almond extract for a little sumthin’. May-jah yums. I still can’t get over how fluffy they are!

I had a kickboxing date with my mom later this morning, and this new-to-me Banana Larabar was calling out to me as a pre-workout snack!


I usually don’t care for banana flavoured things as I find they always end up tasting artificial. But I figured the chances of that happening with this one were pretty low.



However, I think this may have been my smallest Larabar yet.


Next to my lens cover. What it didn’t have in size, it made up for in taste. Pretty darn good! Didn’t quite get to the top of my favourite flavour rakings, but it’s nowhere near Cherry Pie, which is at the bottom of the list.

I also mummified my foot.


You will notice my laptop in the background. That’s because I followed a step-by-step guide that everyone’s favourite Smoothie Girl Deb sent me. I mentioned a while ago that I was getting plantar fasciitis symptoms in my left foot, and she said taping hers up has helped her symptoms a lot. All I did was take sport tape and wrap horizontal strips on the bottom of my foot, then a vertical layer, then another horizontal layer.

I actually did this at the cottage over the weekend when my feet were bothering me while cleaning. It helped a lot! After the 45 minute kickboxing class (which despite being at a beginner level, had a great instructor) I ran 2 miles on the treadmill. Last time I ran two miles on the treadmill, I was in pain for the rest of the day – but today I feel fine! Yayyy!! Thank you Deb!!

Lunch was the usual!


A gargantuan salad with kale, tuna and feta cheese. The dressing was hummus watered down with the juice from a bottle of olives. Gooooood stuff.


I’m sure these big salads are getting redundant, but I honestly crave one a day now. Nomnom.

I may also crave chocolate after every meal.


Another Newfoundland Chocolate Company chocolate. I think this one had raspberry or strawberry mixed into the center. Not like the cheap chocolates, this blended the flavours really well!


The Perfect Plank

After doing my Perfect Push-Up post, I got a question from Angharad on proper plank form. It’s very similar to the push-up and many of the same rules apply!


Coincidentally, Lori’s strength training move of the week was also the plank! I asked her for this picture because she demonstrates it perfectly here :)

Some things to remember:

  • Do not stick your butt in the air. Your body will want to do this naturally, and sometimes you don’t even realize this is happening.
  • Conversely, don’t arch your back too much and let your belly fall toward the ground.
  • Elbows should be under your shoulders, or if you’re in a high plank, hands under your shoulders.
  • Keep your head down to make sure your whole spine is straight. It should look like a straight line from your heels to your head.
  • Speaking of your heels, push them back a little. We have a habit of pushing all our weight forward onto our arms, but balance that out by putting some weight back into your feet too. This will help with that straight line.
  • Tuck your pelvis in. Pretend like you’re gyrating it forward.
  • BREATHE. Focusing on your breaths will help you pull through.

As always, I recommend doing them in front of a mirror. You’ll eventually learn what that proper position feels like without having to look at yourself. Remember, this is a core exercise. If you feel it more in your back than in your abs, chances are your form could use some tweaking.

The plank, in my opinion, is probably the best core exercise there is. Isometric exercises (ones where you contract your muscles without movement) are great for your abs. It’s something you do in everyday movements without even realizing it. You’ll be able to perform activities with a lot more power and ease when strengthening your core this way.

That’s not to say crunches don’t help with core strength either, but the only time you’ll really notice these strength gains is when you’re actually doing crunches. Not to mention, many people perform crunches horribly wrong, and do more harm to their back than good to their abs.

Some other plank variations:

High plank


Side plank

Plank on a ball



Leg lift plank


Reverse plank


Click on the pictures if you want to see their original sources!

As usual, there are tons more plank variations, these are just the very basic ones. But you don’t need to get fancy to reap the benefits. Doing 1-3 sets of Lori’s version above, holding for as long as you can, will get the job done :)


Question of the Day: What’s your favourite ab exercise? The cable horizontal woodchop is probably mine :)


I’m hitting publish early folks! Off to see Shrek with the daddio and step-sis :)

Posted on May 27, 2010, in Workouts and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 35 Comments.

  1. I like doing planks! They’re tough but they make me feel stronger for being able to do them.

    Sorry for not commenting as much lately – I’ve actually been hanging out with friends and living life off the computer (but I still look forward to reading your daily posts before bed!) Not having school or a job has made the days kind of blend together so when you posted about missing Waffle Wednesday I realized I had missed it too! I actually had waffles Tuesday =)

    I’ll have to keep checking back on this post to see everyone’s fave abs moves since I’m looking for some variety. I like plain ol’ crunches, sometimes using a weight as well

    Enjoy Shrek – I’m going to see it this weekend with my lil bro – SO excited!
    Nicole G

  2. I am notorious for HATING any sort of ab exercises, but in these classes I’ve been taking, planks are done in every class. I am growing to love them, but I can’t see any differences in my stomach tone yet :( Thanks for the tutorial!

  3. yowza! those flapjacks have some STELLAR stats! and that deb.. what a smartie. glad it helped. are there a lot of newfoundland pups there?? hmmm. i hope so. i love them. i love a good plank! and also a good woodchop! i cant pick just one move.

  4. I wouldn’t have thought those pancakes had so much protein because they are so fluffy. That’s great!

    I think decline bench situps and twists are my favorite ab exercise. Planks do work my abs the best though.

  5. Great post – planks are one of my favorite exercises. I’ve never tried the plank on a ball before – it looks hardcore!! Have fun at Shrek – hope its great.

  6. One of my new favorite ab exercises is the rope crunch! I also like the wood chop. Planks for sure are the best, but I can’t do them more than once a week and still be able to laugh without pain.

    That chocolate looks delish! I am now missing chocolate LOL!

  7. adrienmelaine

    I love doing slow bicycles (with a 2 second count) they’re so freaking hard!

    I also like doing circles with my arms when planking on a ball!

  8. oh! i love me a good old plankaroonie! and thanks for putting in all the variations :) the plank on a bosu is definitely one of my favs along with the medicine ball ab chops!

    i’m for sure making those dairy free cakes asap!

  9. Dairy-freeishh pancakes haha love it

    I didn’t know plank exercises were more strengthening than crunches! Usually when I do planks of any sort, my arms end up hurting more than my core :/

    My favorite ab exercise would be bicycle crunches. They’re seriously effective :D

  10. my bf just went to the doc and she told him that he had plantar fasciitis too. his taping method is a lot different. its more like a wrap around the foot. he said it helps tons. icing also helps a lot too. she gave him some pt and stretching exercises to do with bands. have you tried those?

    my fav ab move is weighted tea kettle dips. i can feel them!

    • Yes! I’ve been stretching tons, doing my little foot exercises, and even started working the bigger connecting muscles. I always ice after runs, so I’ve added my foot to the list as well. Ooof. The price some of us have to pay just to run! ;)

  11. I sympathize with you on the doggy wake-up calls… my boy insists on eating his breakfast at 6:00 am sharp every morning! Speaking of breakfast, I’m going to have to try to make your protein pancakes sometime! They look so FLUFFY and those nutritionals are great!

  12. Thankyouthankyouthankyou!

    Now I can practice my little heart out and perfect that plank like nobody’s business :)
    I personally am a big fan of boat pose – I can really feel it but it doesn’t feel hellish like some ab work does!

    Oh and let’s not talk about getting woken up by small furry animals. My kittens are devilish, let’s just say that. Archie is a cutie pie though so I bet you don’t mind too much :)

  13. I FINALLY found your blog!! I thought I had it bookmarked!
    I am back and have been blogging for about a month now! I must catch up on reading yours! :-)

  14. right now i have on my blog what happens if you invert the forearm plank. it’s called scorpion or feathered peacock in yoga, depending on if you bend your knees or not. Even better for the core than when your feet are on the ground. I HIGHLY rec’o it b/c I love how free it feels to be upside down but still be really strong in your core. It’s easier than you think it is. TRY it!

    I usually don’t care for banana flavoured things as I find they always end up tasting artificial—SO TRUE
    Banana anything skeeves me.
    And yes, that is literally a 2 bite thing. Skylar could eat that in 2 bites and she’s 3 with a tiny mouth!

    Plantar fasc. I have it. It ebbs and flows and buy the BLUE insoles i feature and link in this post

    best i have ever tried. Not perfect, but for 30 bucks, well worth it.


    • Yes!! I forgot all about that post of yours because it was before my foot pain began. Thank you for the recommendation! I’ll check it into it :)

  15. Madeline - Greens and Jeans

    I’m all about the bicycle crunch

  16. those pancakes are insanely beautiful. you’ve given me a small pancake obsession. seriously.
    i’m going to make these soon, you have my word!

  17. Oh yeah, I did the woodchop on Wednesday and I’m still feeling it. Another one that I like is for the obliques: on your knees, take the cable from over head and crunch it down from your right side to your left side (twisting). Feels so good!

  18. Owie, poor foot :/

    Me + ab exercises are not friends at all. I know I need to do more in general, but I’m lucky if I eek out a few crunches / bicycle kicks (I do quite like those, though)

  19. Planks are awesome! I have a hard time with the side ones but I’m not giving up. I think taping your foot is a great strategy. I found that my foot hurts when I go barefoot but if I wear good shoes it feels much, much better.

    Hope you have a fabulous weekend.

  20. I crave chocolate after every meal too!

    My favorite ab move is the plank!

  21. i love your pancakes and ginormous salads. you’re a girl after my own heart :)

  22. Haha…I’m not a big fan of ab moves in general…I get bored. But I do like the bicycle crunch. Jillian says on the 30 Day Shred that it’s one of her favorites, so that’s good enough for me :-)

  23. That’s so exciting that you are moving to Toronto! I wish you all the best! It is a great city to live (I lived there for about 9 years!) I did actually move because I am now in law school- I have one year under my belt- 2 more to go! haha
    I am glad all is well. Your meals look fantastic as always and I look forward to reading your blog again!

    Take care!

  24. Thanks for the “plank tutorial”, Susan!
    Great post, as always :)
    Wish you a great weekend!
    Brazilian XOXO´s,

  25. Yum-o pancakes! I like the plank too. Yoga incorporates a lot of different variations, as opposed to yoga-ab exercises. Great for your abs, obliques and back! I agree, the Larabars are far too small (5 WW points in one and it’s like three bites), they are SO GOOD though.

  26. I love planks. I do regular, side and leg lift ones. I did the horizontal wood chop with my trainer last week but didn’t know what it was called! Fave ab exercise- I really like crunches. No idea why, but I do.

    All the Lara bars I have had lately have been tiny :(

  27. I’ll be honest, my favorite part of my bod is my stomach. As horrible as my ass can look on any given day (least fave) I can look at my abs and be aye okay. And I owe them alll to planks. With yoga and just in general, especially with yoga, because it doesn’t even feel like I’m doing an ab workout, and then bam! core work. :)

    and planks are jillian michaels approved as best ab workout too. well done post susan!

    alsoo… another case in point of why we would be awesome roomies sometime in our lives, our love of chocolate. chocolate after every. single. meal. its awful how much i eat of it.. but so good! and a little goes a long way i say!

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