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I think I'm fit but why can't I plank/push-up?

Perla4686Perla4686 Posts: 104Member Member Posts: 104Member Member
I've been working out for a very long time. I enjoy running and aerobics and I think I have good stamina. I go to a class and will jump, dance, jog etc for an hour without breaks. I also do my own strength program (which would probably be classed as mild). I use hand weights (2 kg in each hand) and do a 20 minute session 3x/week.
Why do I struggle so much with planks/push-ups? I can hold a plank for about 5 seconds and then collapse. I've been told often that over time it will improve, bit it hasn't. I've been told to start on my knees, which I can do fine and hold for about 20 seconds but I've been doing that forever with no change.
Same with push-ups. I can't do them properly at all. My arms just can't seem to do them right. I just can't go down. PT I had years ago was constantly telling me my arms should be alligned with my shoulders but mine are always sort of slanting forwards.
I want to improve my core, it's just so frustrating!
Any advice?
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Replies

  • ChieflrgChieflrg Posts: 7,657Member Member Posts: 7,657Member Member
    Fit defines being able to do better at the activities you practice.

    If you have problem at doing something and form corrections are at a limit, you must either do more of the activity at the proper load and/or utilize movements that at more specific to the movement.

    Pushups on a slight angle are more specific to a classic pushup then a wall pushup. Find a angle you can do and increase volume until you can decrease the angle more as sessions tally.

    For planks I might utilize a ab wheel and have a client roll out a comfortable range and then set a timer for 6-7 minutes and do AMRAP until you leave about 3 in the tank and continue sets of leaving 3 in the tank until time is up.

    Over time you would be able to do more reps and extend further. Once you are close to full extension you should be able to hold a plank better.
    edited March 15
  • Perla4686Perla4686 Posts: 104Member Member Posts: 104Member Member
    Chieflrg wrote: »

    For planks I might utilize a ab wheel and have a client roll out a comfortable range and then set a timer for 6-7 minutes and do AMRAP until you leave about 3 in the tank and continue sets of leaving 3 in the tank until time is up..

    Forgive my ignorance, but can you explain these?
  • Perla4686Perla4686 Posts: 104Member Member Posts: 104Member Member
    cwolfman13 wrote: »
    Running and aerobics will make you cardiovascular fit, but not strong. What exactly are you doing with 2Kg hand weights? .

    I set an interval timer for 10 minutes at 40 second intervals and just lift the weights in different ways. Sorry, I don't know the names of all the different moves.
    They're just the classic stuff to do with weights, combination of YouTube videos, Julian Michael, rosemary Conley (I think).
    Maybe I just think I'm fit but I'm not really? Feels like hard work though...
  • rosioramarosiorama Posts: 301Member Member Posts: 301Member Member
    Perla4686 wrote: »
    Chieflrg wrote: »

    For planks I might utilize a ab wheel and have a client roll out a comfortable range and then set a timer for 6-7 minutes and do AMRAP until you leave about 3 in the tank and continue sets of leaving 3 in the tank until time is up..

    Forgive my ignorance, but can you explain these?

    Ab wheel: it’s a little wheel with handles on it, for exercising abs- using an ab wheel is more advanced than planking.

    AMRAP = as many reps as possible

    “Whatever” inThe tank - not doing all the reps you can in a set?

    Like previous posters said, you probably need to do a more serious weight routine (programs like Jillian Michael’s are more cardio than weights -despite the fact that she incorporates weights)to get strong enough to do a plank and pushups. And you have to work toward them - lookup modifications that are easier versions and do sets of them at least twice a week. Or better yet, look into a beginner weightlifting routine and start lifting: Starting Strength comes to mind - I have not tried it, but lots of people post about it.
    edited March 15
  • Kathryn247Kathryn247 Posts: 449Member Member Posts: 449Member Member
    Here's the much-referenced strength training thread:
    https://community.myfitnesspal.com/en/discussion/10332083/which-lifting-program-is-the-best-for-you/p1

    It has a lot of options for good training programs, and you don't need to go to the gym to do some of them.
  • ChieflrgChieflrg Posts: 7,657Member Member Posts: 7,657Member Member
    Perla4686 wrote: »
    Chieflrg wrote: »

    For planks I might utilize a ab wheel and have a client roll out a comfortable range and then set a timer for 6-7 minutes and do AMRAP until you leave about 3 in the tank and continue sets of leaving 3 in the tank until time is up..

    Forgive my ignorance, but can you explain these?

    Google "ab wheel" for a pic. It is available at majority of gyms. It is a useful tool that is designed to help strengthen the abs. It gives you a very wide ROM(range of motion) which is useful any beginner to a more advanced person depending on how far you roll out or if you are kneeling or standing. In my opinion is it the king of strengthening the mid section because it's so versatile for a person's ability.

    AMRAP. A acronym for as many reps as possible. Meaning there is no defined rep scheme. Its up to the ability of the person on that particular session of how much is possible.

    Leaving three in the tank. It takes some experience and data to do this but it gets easier the more we practice. I would not advice you to go to failure on any lift. So I want you to stop doing reps when you feel you could only do about three more before you would fail. This will leave room for you to practice more reps/sets without taxing yourself. Basically being able to walk away challenged without feeling "beaten up".
  • mbaker566mbaker566 Posts: 8,598Member Member Posts: 8,598Member Member
    lifting(heavy) is not required. if you that is not your cup of tea, check out body weight exercises. incline planks or push ups for example :)
  • erickirberickirb Posts: 12,060Member Member Posts: 12,060Member Member
    sijomial wrote: »
    I can't imagine that 2kg weights are giving you any benefit whatsoever - why so light?

    ^This,
    You would be better served using full gallon milk jugs, full of water they will weigh 8.8lbs (4L=4kg, 1KG=2.2lbs), but even then you would "outgrow" that weight in a matter of days/weeks, depending on the exercise.
    May want to look at the program "you are your own gym" if you are not interested in getting heavier weights.
    edited March 15
  • PsychgrrlPsychgrrl Posts: 2,755Member Member Posts: 2,755Member Member
    Try incorporating different core exercises besides planks (there are lots of muscles that make up the core). Your core stabilizes you in your plank, and planks also involve arm, back, and shoulder strength which you're not building with the light weights. There are YouTube videos for body weight exercises if you don't have access to a gym.
  • springlering62springlering62 Posts: 219Member Member Posts: 219Member Member
    I’m going to come at this from another direction. I didn’t start weight training til last month, and have no problems with planking. I must be nuts, because I love to plank. I came from a yoga background, and I struggled, til someone told me to push back through my heels. For some reason that just clicked with me and planks immediately became more balanced and easy. And then being told to push the floor “down” as hard as I could with my hands and “dome” my shoulders helped, too.

    I do struggle with pushups and chatarunga, because of a small rotator cuff tear, but I can already tell the weight training is helping with those, too.

    Setting my hands and/or feet further apart helps me when I am tired or my shoulder is particularly sore.

    I’m finding that Pilates has been very helpful filling in the gaps between yoga and weight training. My core is crazy strong thanks to Pilates. It’s just masked by a stubborn jelly belly, lol.
  • firef1y72firef1y72 Posts: 1,151Member Member Posts: 1,151Member Member
    Push ups :: the stairs are your friend. Start in an almost vertical position, hands on stair. Once you can do 10 push ups in that position, move your hands down a step. Far more like doing the real thing than on your knees and eventually you'll be doing push ups.

    Planks : I suck at planks, but am getting better. Do other exercises to strengthen your core, I swear by heavish compound lifting, along with the usual suspects. Then its practise, practise, practise, again don't go on knees. Personally I find its mind over matter, plus positioning. I work with a PT and she is damned fussy about my form, especially with my weight being forward, and hips tucked under.
  • lorrpblorrpb Posts: 10,116Member Member Posts: 10,116Member Member
    I read that you need to be able to bench half your body weight to do a push up. I believe it. Both push ups and planks require a certain amount of technique/form especially with engaging your core, in addition to strength.
  • AnnPT77AnnPT77 Posts: 10,523Member Member Posts: 10,523Member Member
    I don't know whether chieflrg would approve, and he's certainly more knowledgeable so a better advisor than I am, but I found the ab wheel almost prohibitively difficult to start, even at limited range of motion. It helped me to begin, for a while, with roll-outs on the exercise ball (swiss ball) from the knees. (There are basic videos on YouTube). But even that may be challenging if you can't plank.

    I share others' skepticism about 2kg weights alone being sufficient for very long, to build strength, and endorse that "best lifting program" link as very useful. Even for upper body, I need heavier weights for some movements, and lighter weights for others, to have a good challenge. Often, the programs that use one set of relatively light, manageable weights, at quite a few reps, are more about endurance and enhanced cardiovascular capability - good things, but not the same as progressively increasing strength.

    One thing I think many people don't initially realize: "Lifting heavy" just means lifting things that are challenging (but not injurious or punitive!) for you, then increasing the challenge as that amount gets easy, going through that progression over and over, to get stronger. "Lifting heavy" doesn't mean starting with some objectively huge, unmanageable amount of weight.

    I don't think you need to think of yourself as "not fit". There are lots of dimensions to fitness, and pretty much everyone is more advanced in some than others. By "dimensions", I mean things like cardiovascular fitness (which itself has dimensions related to peak capabilities vs. endurance, at least), flexibility, agility, raw muscular strength (for lots of different muscle groups), and lots more. If you enjoy getting fitter, I think that's part of the fun: There's always something we can work on, and improve.

    Best wishes!
  • Theoldguy1Theoldguy1 Posts: 278Member Member Posts: 278Member Member
    AnnPT77 wrote: »
    I don't know whether chieflrg would approve, and he's certainly more knowledgeable so a better advisor than I am, but I found the ab wheel almost prohibitively difficult to start, even at limited range of motion. It helped me to begin, for a while, with roll-outs on the exercise ball (swiss ball) from the knees. (There are basic videos on YouTube). But even that may be challenging if you can't plank.

    I share others' skepticism about 2kg weights alone being sufficient for very long, to build strength, and endorse that "best lifting program" link as very useful. Even for upper body, I need heavier weights for some movements, and lighter weights for others, to have a good challenge. Often, the programs that use one set of relatively light, manageable weights, at quite a few reps, are more about endurance and enhanced cardiovascular capability - good things, but not the same as progressively increasing strength.

    One thing I think many people don't initially realize: "Lifting heavy" just means lifting things that are challenging (but not injurious or punitive!) for you, then increasing the challenge as that amount gets easy, going through that progression over and over, to get stronger. "Lifting heavy" doesn't mean starting with some objectively huge, unmanageable amount of weight.

    I don't think you need to think of yourself as "not fit". There are lots of dimensions to fitness, and pretty much everyone is more advanced in some than others. By "dimensions", I mean things like cardiovascular fitness (which itself has dimensions related to peak capabilities vs. endurance, at least), flexibility, agility, raw muscular strength (for lots of different muscle groups), and lots more. If you enjoy getting fitter, I think that's part of the fun: There's always something we can work on, and improve.

    Best wishes!

    I love the ab wheel but agree it may be too much for someone that can't hold a plank for 5 seconds. I like this article by Mike Boyle on progressing to the ab wheel and beyond:
    https://www.t-nation.com/training/anterior-core-training
  • AnnPT77AnnPT77 Posts: 10,523Member Member Posts: 10,523Member Member
    Theoldguy1 wrote: »
    AnnPT77 wrote: »
    I don't know whether chieflrg would approve, and he's certainly more knowledgeable so a better advisor than I am, but I found the ab wheel almost prohibitively difficult to start, even at limited range of motion. It helped me to begin, for a while, with roll-outs on the exercise ball (swiss ball) from the knees. (There are basic videos on YouTube). But even that may be challenging if you can't plank.

    I share others' skepticism about 2kg weights alone being sufficient for very long, to build strength, and endorse that "best lifting program" link as very useful. Even for upper body, I need heavier weights for some movements, and lighter weights for others, to have a good challenge. Often, the programs that use one set of relatively light, manageable weights, at quite a few reps, are more about endurance and enhanced cardiovascular capability - good things, but not the same as progressively increasing strength.

    One thing I think many people don't initially realize: "Lifting heavy" just means lifting things that are challenging (but not injurious or punitive!) for you, then increasing the challenge as that amount gets easy, going through that progression over and over, to get stronger. "Lifting heavy" doesn't mean starting with some objectively huge, unmanageable amount of weight.

    I don't think you need to think of yourself as "not fit". There are lots of dimensions to fitness, and pretty much everyone is more advanced in some than others. By "dimensions", I mean things like cardiovascular fitness (which itself has dimensions related to peak capabilities vs. endurance, at least), flexibility, agility, raw muscular strength (for lots of different muscle groups), and lots more. If you enjoy getting fitter, I think that's part of the fun: There's always something we can work on, and improve.

    Best wishes!

    I love the ab wheel but agree it may be too much for someone that can't hold a plank for 5 seconds. I like this article by Mike Boyle on progressing to the ab wheel and beyond:
    https://www.t-nation.com/training/anterior-core-training

    Yeah, I like that article. I think I maybe even read it when I was working out what I wanted to do as more specific core work in pursuit of better balancing a single rowing shell - it looks familiar. (The rowing itself improves some aspects; but there are stabilizers involved in balancing laterally - or semi-circularly in the vertical plane that cuts the body laterally? - that the rowing motion itself doesn't do much for.) Thanks for posting it . . . I'll bookmark it this time. :drinker:
    edited March 16
  • amusedmonkeyamusedmonkey Posts: 9,318Member Member Posts: 9,318Member Member
    How is your form when trying planks? Planks are a full body exercise. You would find them harder if you left all the work to your ab and back muscles. Support yourself with your arms, shoulders pushed up and almost rounded instead of sunk in, butt clinched instead of flopping around...etc. You get better stability that way. Start with 5 seconds, then try to do 6 when you're able. You can then work towards holding it longer and longer gradually one second at a time, and you will surprise yourself when this time next year you'll find yourself holding it for minutes, not seconds.

    ETA: if planks are too hard to hold in proper form even for 5 seconds, you could start training both your planks and pushups simultaneously.

    Start with wall pushups. Take a couple of steps away from the wall, extend your arms at chest level (not at head level) but don't fully lock them. Tension your body like you would with a plank. Do slow pushups on the wall. Eventually, you will be able to do pushups on a high counter, then on a lower table or even on stairs. This will also gently train your core muscles for planks because you would be lowering your center of gravity gradually.
    edited March 16
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