Strengthen Your Core and Shoulders With Adriana Lima's Challenging Battle Rope Plank

Most birthday toasts include cake, champagne, or a delightful combination of the two. If you’re Adriana Lima, though, the well wishes are a bit more…hardcore.

In honor of the Victoria’s Secret model’s 37th birthday yesterday, New York City gym Dogpound posted an Instagram video of Lima doing a one-arm plank battle rope combo move that looks pretty fierce.

Check out the video, via @Dogpound, here:

“This is a very advanced exercise that demands a solid strength foundation,” Sara Solomon, certified personal trainer, CrossFit Level 1 trainer, and athlete, tells SELF. “If you have any cracks in your foundation, this exercise will very quickly have you compensating with the incorrect muscles.”

Because this move requires serious strength from many different muscle groups, you should only try it after you've built a solid base level of strength.

For starters, you need a very strong core to properly execute this move. Practically every core muscle, including the internal and external obliques (the muscles on the side of your stomach), transverse abdominis (the deepest ab muscle that wraps around your sides and spine) and rectus abdominis (what you think of when you think "abs"), will be engaged, Stephanie Mansour, Chicago-based certified personal trainer, tells SELF.

You’re also working your inner hamstrings, gluteus maximus muscles (the biggest muscle on each side of your butt), pec majors (the chest muscles that attach your arms to your trunk), the teres majors (muscles that connect your shoulders to your shoulder blades) and the short head of your biceps (the inner biceps), Solomon adds.

The single-arm battle rope portion of the move adds in extra core and upper-body work—plus, sneaky cardio.

By lifting one arm off the ground to move the rope, you end up in a single-arm plank, which means your core—especially your rectus abdominis and your internal and external obliques—has to work extra hard to keep your body stable in this off-kilter position, says Mansour. You’re also demanding more strength from your bicep, shoulder, tricep, and upper back on the side that’s moving, she adds, as well as arm and shoulder strength from the side that’s fixed on the ground, since it’s now supporting more of your body weight.

Essentially, the added rope element requires nearly all of your already-engaged muscles to work even harder.

What’s more, the fast motion will get your heart rate higher. “You’re using your arms for cardio, which is unique,” says Mansour. “You’ll be more out of breath than if you just did a plank with arm taps.”

Because the move is pretty advanced, try these regressions from Mansour and Solomon first to build your strength in the same muscle groups.

High plank

  • Get down on all fours with your shoulders stacked over your wrists.
  • Lift your knees off the ground and position your feet slightly wider that hip-width apart. Squeeze your abs, glutes, and quads, and tuck your hips under to make sure there’s no arch in your back.
  • Your palms and toes should be the only points of contact with the ground, and your body should form one long, straight line from your head to your feet.

Once you can comfortably hold this position with solid form for at least 60 seconds, try the next move.

Single-arm plank hold

  • Start in the high plank position described above.
  • Without moving your hips up and down or side to side, lift your right hand about 5 inches off the ground and hold for 2 to 3 seconds.
  • Lower your hand back to the ground. This is 1 rep.
  • Do 10 reps, then switch arms and do 10 reps with your left hand.

Continue squeezing your glutes, core, and quads throughout the holds to keep your hips as stable as possible. Because the single-arm plank puts significant pressure on your wrist and shoulder joints, avoid this move (and the moves below) if you have a history of injury or pain in those areas and/or in your neck, Mansour says.

Once you can comfortably do 10 reps on each side, try the next move.

Single-arm plank tap

  • Start in the high plank position described above.
  • Without moving your hips up and down or side to side, lift your right arm and tap your left shoulder with your hand.
  • Lower your arm, and repeat with the other arm, for 1 rep.
  • Do 10 reps, alternating sides.

As you do the taps, do your best to keep your hips square. “Pretend you have a mug of coffee on your back that you must not spill,” says Solomon. This will help you remember to engage your entire core and glutes.

For those who dare, here’s how to do Lima’s move. And if you don't have access to a rope, there's a simple modification you can try.

Single-arm plank with battle ropes

  • Position yourself next to a large rope (certain gyms will have these) and get in the high plank position described above. If you don’t have a rope, you can place a slider, paper towel, or a washcloth on the floor by your side.
  • From here, modify the position slightly to create a wider (and more stable) base for your body. Move your hands a few inches wider than your shoulders and spread out your fingers as wide as possible. Move your feet a few inches wider than your hips.
  • Squeeze your abs and think about tucking your tailbone under a bit. There should be no arch in your lower back.
  • Lift your right hand off the ground and grab the rope. If you're using slider or towel, place the object under your palm.
  • If you're using the rope, begin quickly and repeatedly moving your hand up toward shoulder level and then back down again to create waves through the rope. If you're using sliders (or makeshift sliders), slide your hand forward 5 inches, pause, and then slide it back to starting position.
  • Continue for 10 seconds; switch sides and repeat for 10 seconds on the other side.

As you hold the plank, refrain from sagging your low back, extending your neck, or rotating your hands out, says Solomon. “If you cannot keep your external obliques engaged, then your low back will sag and your hips will also shift to one side, which is not what we want,” says Solomon. The job of the external obliques here is to hold your lower spine in place.

If you're doing the rope movements, “be very careful not to extend the neck or use the upper traps,” says Solomon. Think about relaxing your shoulders and neck and use your chest, back, and biceps to perform the movements. You may not be able to lift your arm as high as Lima does—and that’s OK, she adds. “The key is to respect the shoulder mobility that you currently have and move within it.”

To protect your neck, the top of your head should be facing forward so your neck is in line with the rest of your spine. If you need to look up, do it with just your eyes—not your head, says Mansour. “If you feel any pain in your neck, stop," she adds.

And lastly, be careful not to externally rotate your stable arm, says Solomon. This will encourage compensation from the wrong muscles. “Ideally, the supporting hand should be facing forward,” she says.

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Self – Fitness