Plank position. Also known as torture. If you are: 1) following The New Rules of Lifting for Women: Lift Like a Man, Look Like a Goddess; 2) read Runner's World Magazine; or 3) practice yoga, you are familiar with the plank position. It sucks. It has a cousin called 'side plank' that actually sucks more. Shall we begin?
You need strong abs to support the rest of your body. This is fantastic for yoga movement, protecting your back when lifting and running form. Here's a good article explaining the ab muscles and how/what they support.
This link has a good demonstration of the weight lifting or runner's plank/side-plank. The basic idea is that you get into a low push-up on your forearms and form a straight line from shoulders to hips. Suck in your tummy. Ready? Now start singing Yankee Doodle in your head. Oh, you have a watch? Awesome - time that sucker. If you are watchless like...ahmm...some people ... 60 seconds is approximately 5 to 6 Yankees Doodles 'sung' at medium to fast pace. When I first started doing planks I was around 15 seconds. I am now up to a few sets of 60 seconds. And I am sure New Rules has some additional torture in my future.
Plank in yoga is a little different. You have read me go on and on about high to low plank. If you practice a flow based yoga, you are very familiar with it. Want a link? You got it - You start in high plank and lower into low plank. This movement is repeated numerous times during many of my practices and helps to reset the flow - but it takes ab muscle to support the movement. For me, this is actually way harder than a runner's plank as it requires more arm strength...I have to drop to my knees to make it to low plank. Here is the side plank variation, which I also have yet to master.
Why this lengthy post on plank? Because my abs feel like they are trying to rip away from my musculature system at the moment ... Thanks New Rules. But I know that when I head out for my run this afternoon and when I (hopefully) make it to yoga tonight, all this added core support will be worth this gut wrenching pain.