Exercises You Should Be Doing: Off-Bench Oblique Hold w/ Pulse

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Let me preface all of this by asking you a question.  How stoked are you to go see Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim this weekend?  If you don’t know what it’s about all you need to know is this: Giant robots vs. giant alien monsters.

The only way this movie could be more manly is if the robots all had beards or something.

Or if by some stroke of writing genius (and movie studio cross promotion), Batman comes out of nowhere and starts Sparta kicking aliens left and right.  And Matt Damon reprises his role as Jason Bourne.  Just because.

I defy anyone to tell me that that wouldn’t win an Oscar for “Most Awesome Movie Ever Made.

Think about it.

Anyhoo, I’m sitting here in a Panera Bread as I write this post and I told myself I was going to sequester myself into “academic quarantine” (a term I stole from Eric Cressey) so that I could spend a few solid hours working on my tan presentations for mine and Dean Somerset’s Boston Workshop at the end of the month (Hint: there are still some spots OPEN.)

But I wanted to make sure I posted up a little sumthin, sumthin before the weekend. And since it’s been a few weeks since I’ve shared a new Exercise You Should Be Doing, I figured it was perfect timing.

Off-Bench Oblique Hold w/ Pulse

Who Did I Steal it From:  On Tuesdays I typically train at Boston University Strength & Conditioning, and I’ve seen this exercise done with their athletes numerous times.  I liked it, so felt I’d steal it.

What Does It Do: I’ve long trumpeted the notion that I think planks (and all their infinite variations) reach a point of diminishing returns once people start getting carried away with how LONG they go for.

There’s no denying that there’s a lot of efficacy for their use with people suffering from low back pain, as guys like Dr. Stuart McGill and Dr. Craig Liebenson have long demonstrated their practicality in that regard

Watering things waaaaay down:  one of the major red flags when it comes to chronic back pain is when there’s a huge discrepancy or asymmetry in anterior, posterior, and lateral spinal endurance.  In this context, planks are a god-send as it helps teach people to engage and fire more efficiently the appropriate musculature (rectus abdominus, external/internal obliques, TVA, erector spinae, longissimus, iliocostalis, etc),  – SYNCHRONOUSLY (it’s NOT about isolating anything) – in an effort to better stabilize the spine.

But even then, it’s not like the objective is to plank people to death and make a run at the Guinness Book of World Records.

Technique can get dicey for many after a certain point, and I believe as of late, McGill et al are more in favor of short, intermittent planks holds such as several 5-10s holds done in succession.

And this doesn’t even take into consideration that when we’re referring to healthy, UN-injured people, performing planks for minutes on end makes about as much sense as wiping your ass with sandpaper.

I still find value in planks – I’m not trying to poo-poo on them altogether. Which is why I’d much prefer to make them more challenging than to worry about length.

To that end, the off-bench oblique hold with pulse is a great plank variation that ups the ante on core stabilization, as you not only have to fight gravity to a higher degree, but also resist the dynamic “pulse” of the plate coming back and forth from the body.

Key Coaching Cues:  Hook your feet underneath a secure bench (or GHR if you have one), and then extend your body so that your hips are on the very edge of the bench.  From there it’s important to ensure that you’re body is in a straight line, and that your not rotated too far one way or the other and that your neck is packed and not protruding forward.

Grab a plate, dumbbell, kettlebell, Easy Bake Oven, whatever (I was using 10 lbs in the video and that was plenty challenging) and “pulse” it back and forth from from your chest until your arms are fully extended.

Perform 8-10 reps per side and switch and perform the same process on the other.

Give it a try and let me know what you think!

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Comments for This Entry

  • JustToning

    These are tough, Tony! Been doing these for a few years now on the Back Extension apparatus. Always thought of them like a Pallof Press without cables. Also, try going directly overhead with an even lighter plate or Med Ball for a great Anti-Lateral-Flexion exercise! Awesome write-up as usual, Tony!

    July 12, 2013 at 9:10 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Bret Contreras

    Nice Tony! Haven't seen that one before.

    July 13, 2013 at 1:18 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Eric Edwards

    I usually move perpindicularly to the floor with a kettlebell pressed up. Still makes you stay tight and centered while adding a dynamic component. These look solid too. I'll have to give them a shot. Thanks!

    July 13, 2013 at 1:48 pm | Reply to this comment

  • ScottA1

    Will definitely give these a try. Just recently started doing some anti-rotational holds (pallof press variations). What's your opinion on 1/2 kneeling vs standing? I felt like in standing I relied more on my hips and took my core out of it, so have been doing kneeling, but very possible my form was off or I had too much weight. Which do you prefer?

    July 13, 2013 at 5:14 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Miles Morse

    This is awesome. Love the potential for loading/progression. Pallof presses don't do much for me anymore (with the bands/equipment I have access to).

    July 16, 2013 at 11:58 am | Reply to this comment

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