Planks are a great foundational move to sculpt your abs, but the basic form of the exercise is only the start of the position’s potential. Once you add other implements and motions like pulling, your core workout will never be the same.
Men’s Health Fitness Director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S. upgrades his plank work by bringing in the big guns: Battle ropes and weight sleds. But he’s not just introducing the extra factors to be flashy—there’s a method behind the madness.
Plank Pull Benefits
“Setup for this one’s a little involved, but it’s worth it, because it’ll really force you to perfect your pull-up form, hone your grip strength, and torch your entire core,” says Samuel. “Essentially, we’re blending two motions—a plank reach and a single-arm pullup—into one, while forcing you to completely own the plank motion.” The heavy pulls also mean your arms and lats will face a challenge, too.
You’ll need to be in a fairly high-level gym to pull off this move, given the equipment you’ll need to make it work. If you don’t have access to a sled and rope try a scaled-back version of the exercise with a weight plate.
How To Do The Plank Pull
Make sure your starting position, the forearm plank, is as strong as possible.
- Get in a forearm plank position, with the rope between your arms. You should be as far from the sled as possible.
- Reach in front to pick up the rope with one hand, maintaining the plank position. Squeeze your glutes and keep your hips steady.
- Pull the sled in toward yourself, keeping your torso facing the ground. Make sure to keep the arm you’re pulling with tight to your body and avoid flaring your elbow out; think of it as a fully vertical movement, like a pullup.
- Continue pulling until you bring the sled all the way in.
- Reposition the rope and repeat with the other arm.
The key to this exercise is maintaining your form. “By forcing you into that plank position, you’re creating a ton of abdominal tension, which is really going to smoke your core if you’re responsible about thinking hips-and-shoulders square,” says Samuel. “Once you own this position and pull the sled, you really get to focus on vertical pulling mechanics. You can’t turn this into a quasi-row unless you break the plank.”
Try this move as a brutal ab finisher on your back workout days by completing 3 sets with each arm.
By Brett Williams