Efficiency is a very sexy word. I like to be efficient with my time and exercises. But then again, who doesn’t? When it comes to building a SOLID midsection, there are two exercises that stomp most in terms of overall muscle activation. Can you guess which two?
According to a 2010 study in the Journal of Orthopedic Sports Physical Therapy, researchers from Andrews-Paulos Research and Education Institute in Gulf Breeze, FL took 18 subjects and compared eight exercises (roll-out, pike, knee-up, skier, hip extension right, hip extension left, decline push-up, and sitting march right) using a Swiss ball and two traditional abdominal exercises. The purpose of the study was to find out which of the exercises had the most overall muscle activation via electromyographic (EMG) readings. The results of the study found that the roll-out and pike plank signaled significantly higher EMG readings for ALL of the muscles that make-up the core musculature when compared to the the other exercises.
The authors concluded that “The roll-out and pike were the most effective exercises in activating upper and lower rectus abdominis, external and internal obliques, and latissimus dorsi muscles, while minimizing lumbar paraspinals and rectus femoris activity.”
So how do you perform this exercise? See my video on how to combine not only the Swiss ball pike plank, but a reverse Swiss ball roll-out in the SAME exercise. I will admit, the pike plank is more of an advanced core exercise that requires a degree of flexibility in your shoulders, lumbar spine, and hamstrings. Try adding this to the end of your training sessions that don’t involve much lumbar or hamstring focus, that way those muscles are fresh enough to perform the Pike Plank. Props to Nick Tuminello for sharing the article reference and doing a fantastic write up on this study!