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How To Do The RKC Plank

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Once the regular plank no longer thrills your core, and you start having to hold the position for five minutes to feel any semblance of a burn, it’s time to move on to pastures new. Pastures harder.

The RKC plank, or Russian Kettlebell Challenge plank, was invented by former Soviet special forces trainer Pavel Tsatsouline as part of his fitness programme. It doesn’t involve kettlebells itself, but don’t think that will make it any easier.

Benefits Of The RKC Plank

The tension throughout your body sees different muscle groups work against one another to maintain the plank position. Your abs take far more of a pasting compared to a regular plank, as do your glutes. In fact, just about every muscle that benefits from a normal plank gets a much tougher workout with the RKC plank. And all in less than half the time.

How To Do The RKC Plank

At first glance, the RKC plank looks much like a normal plank, but the slight variations between the two exercises make it twice as hard. The focus is on whole body tension – the kind of bum-clenching intensity you would feel while watching England lose another World Cup penalty shootout. Only in plank form.

Starting from the standard plank position, clench your hands together in front of you and pull your shoulders in – a kind of reverse shrug. Then tense your quads to force your knees up and really clench your glutes as hard as possible. To spread the tension further, squeeze your shoulders towards your toes and toes towards your head as if you’re trying to raise your midriff into the pike position. This increases the stabilising force required from your glutes to maintain the plank position. Even if you’re an experienced planker, your muscles will start to shake pretty quickly.

Start with three to five planks of around ten seconds. After a while, you can extend the duration to 30 seconds if you prefer, but keeping the tension high is more important than lasting longer.

Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.