Three Plank Variations You’ve (Maybe) Never Tried

I’m a big fan of planks.

When done correctly, they teach you to create tension throughout your body, which is a skill a lot of us lack, but could benefit greatly from. If you can create a high amount of body tension when you move, lift, or carry things, you’re a lot less likely to get injured while performing those tasks.

However, the typical plank can get pretty boring. And as you get better at it, you could find yourself holding it for a few minutes, or longer, before it starts to feel like work.

That can look cool on social media, and there can be some benefits to having that kind of muscular endurance, but a few sets of that can eat up your precious workout time.

Here are three plank variations that make the typical plank a minimum of 3.27 times harder.

General cues for all of these:

  • Maintain body tension throughout the movement (brace you upper back, abs, glutes, and thighs tightly)
  • Keep your hips from rocking side to side
  • Avoid sagging through your low back

Elbow Touches

Make these easier by:

  • Placing your hands closer together
  • Spreading your feet further apart
  • Elevating your hands on a step/bench
  • Keep the “elbow touch” motion quick

Make these more difficult by:

  • Spreading your hands further apart
  • Bringing your feet closer together
  • Slowing down the “elbow touch” motion

Plate Switches

Make these easier by:

  • Decreasing the weight or number of plates you’re using
  • Spreading your feet apart
  • Placing your hands on a bench or step to elevate your upper body

Make these more difficult by:

  • Increasing the weight or number of plates you’re using
  • Bringing your feet closer together
  • Slow down the movement

Spiderman Plank

Make these easier by:

  • Elevating your elbows on a bench or step
  • Performing the movement quicker

Make these more difficult by:

  • Performing the movement slower

Give these a shot, and let me know how you like them!

What’s The Worst That Could Happen?

One night, in the middle of my sophomore year of college, I found myself standing on the edge of a bridge that was easily 80 feet above the water below. It was after midnight, and there was no moon. I couldn’t see the water, but I was told it was there. My hands were gripped tightly around a rope which had a loop tied at the bottom of it, my left foot placed inside. My roommate assured me this was all secure, because he’d “done this before”.

In just a few moments, I was supposed to put all my faith in my roommates knot tying abilities, that he had accurately judged the distance between the bridge and the water, and in the strength of the rope, jump off the edge of the bridge, and free fall until the tension of the rope kicked in, and swung me up in the opposite direction. I would then swing back and forth until I slowed down enough to push myself away from the rope, and fall into the water below.

As I prepared myself, (mentally, emotionally, spiritually) my roommate patted me on the back and said, “Don’t worry. What’s the worst that could happen?”

In my experience, it’s situations like these, that this question is most often asked. It’s not asked legitimately, but rather as a way to acknowledge the reality that things could easily go awry, and to bring a little levity to the situation.

Me: “I could die.”

My roommate: “Haha, yeah, maybe.”

However, I’d like to present the idea that this question can have some real value to your life, when asked legitimately and not in an attempt to make a joke about the potential life-ending activity you are about to participate in.

Fear is the most common reason that people don’t pursue something. Whether it’s weight loss, getting healthier, going after a dream job, quitting a crappy job, or asking for that first date.

We build up all the possible, and worst case, scenarios in our head, resulting in our inability to move forward. Because it doesn’t matter how realistic these possibilities are. It just matters that we’ve thought about them, and now they’re in our head.

Asking yourself the question, “What’s the worst that could happen?” is a great way to combat this paralyzing fear.

For example:

Chasing that dream job? Worst case scenario: you don’t get it. You continue where you are currently, and wait for another awesome opportunity.

Losing weight? Worst case scenario: you aren’t as successful as you had hoped, but you learn some valuable lessons that will make the next attempt easier, and make you more likely to be successful.

Asking for that first date? Worst case scenario: During the summer after your 8th grade year, your friend calls her to ask her out for you, but she laughs and says “no”. And then when summer is over and you go to 9th grade and see her every day you have to pretend like it never happened for the next four years. Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything.

If you ask yourself “what’s the worst that could happen?”, and honestly answer it, it’s likely you’ll realize that the worst case scenario isn’t that bad after all. And that it’s probably worth the risk to give things an honest attempt. Because even if you’re faced with the “worst that could happen”, you’re stronger than it and you will be better equipped the next time around.

And, yes, I did jump. I didn’t die. And it was awesome.

Fit In Fifteen

Let’s be clear about something right from the get-go. The title of this article should not suggest to you that you can get fit in just fifteen minutes. That’s silliness. If you’ve been around here long enough, then you know that I am not a fan of quick fixes. I’m sure that’s not what you thought, but…you know…just to be clear.

What this title should suggest to you is that you can use the following 15-ish minute workout to get some good work done in a short amount of time. And that doing short workouts like this can be very effective in your pursuit towards being a healthier person.

Perform the following exercises for the time prescribed, resting minimally between exercises. After one round is completed, rest for 60 seconds and then repeat. Complete for a total of four rounds. As mentioned, this should take you roughly 15 minutes to complete.

Squat Clean and Press (30 seconds)

Double Dumbbell Bent Over Row (30 seconds)

Floor Press (30 seconds)

Body Tap Plank (45 seconds)

Farmer’s Carry (45 seconds)

Give this a shot and let me know how much you love (or hate) it!

And if you know someone who could use a short, effective workout, please share this with them!

Some Tough Love

New goals don’t deliver new results.

New lifestyles do.

And a lifestyle is not an outcome, it is a process. For this reason, all of your energy should go into building better habits, not chasing better results.

-James Clear

We often think that we just need to make the right goals. If we can do that, and make them at the right time, then THIS time we will be successful in achieving them.

This is not the solution. This is the problem.

We want different goals, but we don’t want a different lifestyle.

We want to be healthier, but we approach it in unhealthy ways.

Changing your lifestyle is hard. Really hard. But it’s the only way you will see long-term success.

Every time you try a new diet, you think you’re trying a new approach. You’re not. You’re doing the exact same thing that has repeatedly left you frustrated, defeated, and feeling like you’re not cut out for this. It just has a different name this time around.

A fad diet will not work because it doesn’t address the reasons you’ve never stuck with a fad diet before.

Getting motivated will not work because it doesn’t address the reasons your’re motivation has always failed you in the past.

If you want to be successful for the rest of your life (because that’s the goal right?) you need to address, and change, the way you live life that is in direct conflict with the goals you want to achieve. If you don’t, it will never matter how great the goals you set are.

You will not keep them.

The Trouble With “Earning” Food

It’s been a long day.

You didn’t sleep well.

Your kids were fighting all morning.

Work was rough.

Dinner didn’t turn out very well.

And, you still have to sit down and pay bills once the kids are in bed.

So, you grab the ice cream out of the freezer, and put a big old scoop into a bowl. Then another scoop, and you tell yourself, “It’s OK. I’ve earned this after today.”

Image result for bowl of ice cream

Been there? I’d say there’s a really good chance you have.

There are two problems with this thinking.

First, we don’t earn food. We need food. It’s not something we have to work for, or only get if we “deserve” it.

Thinking it terms of whether or not you have or haven’t earned food is a good sign that your relationship with food might need some work.

Sure, there is some real value to taking a moment to think about if eating a certain food will move you closer to, or further away from your goals, and doing a quick cost-to-benefit ratio to see if you want to eat it. But that is totally different than feeling like you’ve earned certain foods.

That difference in mindset and how we mentally approach food matters.

A lot.

Second, when we feel like we’ve earned certain foods after long and stressful days, it’s not really about whether or not we’ve earned it. What’s most likely happening is that we’re stressed, and we want something to make us feel better. We want comfort, and food is an easy and common way to find it.

We tell ourselves that we’ve earned it, because if it’s something we’ve earned and deserve, then it’s pretty easy to justify.

(Side note: I could care less is you have ice cream every single night. What I do care about is WHY you have ice cream every single night. I have a bowl of cereal most nights. It’s never because I feel like I’ve earned it. It’s because I like cereal, so I make it fit into my daily nutrition while still being able to pursue my goals. There’s a big difference between eating something to deal with stress or emotions, and making a conscious choice to eat something simply because it brings you pleasure.)

Following my last point, before my side note, if you find yourself justifying anything you’re eating, that’s also a red flag. You don’t need to justify your food choices to anyone. Certainly not yourself.

Using food to cope with feelings is very common. I’d argue it’s one of the most common things my clients struggle with.

The best approach is to acknowledge what you’re feeling. Are you tired? Are you stressed? Are you bored? Are you lonely? Ask yourself those questions, and answer honestly.

This alone can be very helpful. Recognizing that your “hunger” is really just a cue to an action that helps deal with emotions can sometimes shut the whole thing down.

If it doesn’t, deal with what you’re feeling.

Stessed? Go workout. Call a friend to vent. Make a plan to deal with that specific stressor.

Tired? Go to bed.

You might be surprised at how often this will nip that “I’ve earned this” mindset in the bud. And taking back control of your eating habits will go a very long way in regards to meeting your goals.

Build-A-Booty: Kneeling Dumbbell Squat

I’m usually a little wary of “new” exercises. They tend to be incredibly complex, difficult to set up, way too advanced for most people, or all three.

Social media has definitely brought about an age of stupid things getting notoriety simply because they look cool. That’s great for entertainment, but it’s not so great when you’re looking for actual results.

That being said, sometimes you see something that makes you go, “hmm, that looks like it could be beneficial.”

That’s the thought I had when I first saw the Kneeling Dumbbell Squat a few years back.

I like this exercise for a few reasons. First, it’s effective. Third, it’s really easy to perform properly. And D, it’s easy to adjust the difficulty as needed.

Here’s what it looks like:


  • Get on both knees, with your toes flat on the ground.
  • Hold a dumbbell in the goblet position (at chest height).
  • While maintaining a tell chest, lower your butt to your heels, and then return to the starting position.
  • Finish the movement by squeezing your glutes tight at the top.

That’s it!

Give these a shot, and let me know how you like them!

My Best Advice For The New Year

While the holidays aren’t technically over, (there’s still today) they basically are. And you’ve made it through the bulk of the difficulty that the holiday season can bring.

The family get togethers.

The parties with friends.

The endless cookies that people bring in to work.

You’ve run the gauntlet and, aside from Jan 1st, it’s over.

Which means, for most of you, you’re looking at a fresh start. You’re looking at making 2020 better than 2019. And you’re likely making resolutions that are designed around exercise and eating healthier.

Here’s the thing about the habits and behaviors we choose to follow when attempting to make healthier choices…you dance with the one that brought you.

Are you familiar with that expression? It simply means, who or whatever gets you to your goal is the one you will need to keep “dancing” with to stay there.

If your plans to lose weight, get stronger, or be healthier include drastic calorie cuts, hours and hours of cardio each week, and removing all “sugary” foods from your diet…then those are the habits you are going to have to keep for the long haul. Those habits are your dance partner, and you’ll need to keep dancing with them if you want to maintain your progress.

On the other hand, if you meet your goals via habits that are sustainable, and allow you to enjoy life and social situations, then those are the habits you will need to continue to maintain your progress.

The rest of your life is a long time. Make sure that your habits are ones you can sustain forever. If they’re not, your dance is going to end early than you want it to, and your partner will leave you more than disappointed.

Be wise. Be patient.