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Fitness & Health

28th Sep 2020

Planks are one of the worst ab exercises, says Triple H’s personal trainer

Alex Roberts

As one of the most sought-after personal trainers on the planet, Joe DeFranco knows a thing or two about writing up workout plans.

However, when it comes to planks, you might want to leave this extremely popular ab exercise out of your routine altogether.

DeFranco counts WWE head honchos Triple H and Vince McMahon among his clientele, in addition to NFL stars and other top-level athletes.

On the most recent episode of his Industrial Strength Show podcast, the New Jersey native explained why he hates planks. It helps that the episode is titled ‘Why I hate planks’.

DeFranco has a particular issue with the traditional plank.

He said: “I’ve always hated the traditional way trainers programme planks.

“Traditionally, what they do is see how long you can hold a plank for. I especially hate it with young kids who are first learning about exercise.”

DeFranco’s beef with planks stems from the way they are programmed. He says they don’t feature in any of his training plans as a result of that.

“Emphasis is always on time, and not technique,” he said.

“In the case of a plank, even if you don’t realise it, your posture and positioning start to change. One common flaw is the stomach starts to sag, arching the lower back… you’re hanging on your spine rather than your core musculature.”

Planks are a problem for DeFranco because the onus is always on time.

You might want to think twice about adding planks to your workout routine. (Photo: Getty)

When people hold this position for five minutes or so, they will do anything to keep themselves in that position, says DeFranco.

This often means people take the emphasis off their abs, and instead put it onto the joints and ligaments holding them upright – such as the shoulder and rotator cuff.

If you are concerned with revealing your abs, exercises shouldn’t even be your first port of call. It’s to do with diet, first and foremost.

If you’re in a calorie deficit, you’ll lose body fat and that in turn makes you look more defined. In terms of ‘working your abs’, don’t overlook the importance of heavy, compound lifts.

You might not think it, but bench presses, squats, deadlifts and pull-ups (to name a few) require an immense amount of core stability.

Direct ab exercises that don’t compromise your lower back are always the safest bet. Hollow holds, L-sits, Russian twists and leg raises are good examples.

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