Men Over 40 Can Build Strength and Stability With This Exercise
Trainer, author, and fitness model Kirk Charles, NASM-CPT CES, knows that as you get older, life can get more complicated. But that shouldn’t prevent you from being on top of your game. He’ll help to answer the tough training questions that come with age so you too can be Fit Beyond 40.
Basketball is the sport I grew up playing the most back in the 1970s. But these days, whenever I play with a 40-and-older group (what I call the “belly-bumper” crowd) the game becomes far less skill-oriented. There’s a lot more pushing and shoving as many older guys are just trying to get through the game without getting hurt. In order to prevent injury or being manhandled by an old, overweight guy leaning on you, you need core stability and strength. A big part of developing that stability and strength is by doing anti-rotation exercises that help can help you stand your ground. As we get older, those types of exercises are critical so we can safely engage in all types of athletic activities and even simple movements like opening a door.
The plank position is a great way to build core strength, but it can be taken to a higher level by adding a pulling component. The elevated plank row adds the dimension of anti-rotation to planking because your body is continually challenged by gravity and the weight and movement of rowing a dumbbell. Being unbalanced forces your entire body to be activated to execute the exercise using good form.
To set up, grab a dumbbell you can comfortably row and find a bench in your gym. Get into a single-arm elevated plank position using the bench as a platform, with your feet slightly wider than your typical plank at about shoulder-width apart. Your other arm should be hanging down holding the dumbbell in your hand in a neutral position. Once you’re in the plank position, squeeze your core and glutes and keep your body in a straight line. This is your starting position.
Squeeze your back to row the dumbbell, raising the weight up to your ribcage. Hold for a count, then lower back down to the starting position. That’s one rep.
The key to the elevated plank row is to remain balanced during the reps. While rowing with your right arm, you’ll feel the right side of your body under tension as it fights gravity to maintain the position. The tendency will be to compensate by rotating your right side up to maintain stability. You must fight that tendency and remain firm by continuing to squeeze your glutes, core, and back muscles.
To add more of a challenge and increase the focus on anti-rotation, you can engage in an isometric hold at the top of the row. By increasing your time under tension, you’ll have to fight against those forces even more. The beauty of this exercise is that you’ll get more of a core burn as your full body is engaged in fighting for balance and stability. This variation requires complete focus, even with light weights.
Try this exercise without weights to start out. Just hold the elevated plank with one arm for ten seconds or more to get the feeling of locking in your core and maintaining stability. Then pick up a light weight to row and engage in the iso hold. Once you get the technique down try the exercise with heavier weights and work your way up to longer iso holds.
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