The RKC Plank

Here’s a video discussing the RKC Plank. I learned this from my buddy Joe Sansalone. I’m not sure if I’m teaching it correctly according to the RKC, but this is the way I currently teach the plank, and quite frankly the regular plank pales in comparison to this variation.

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Lengthen the lever by placing your arms further out.
  2. Narrow the base by placing your elbows closer together.
  3. Contract the quads to lock out the knees.
  4. Contract the glutes as hard as possible to posteriorly tilt the pelvis (the low abs and external obliques will assist with this too); hold this pelvic position throughout the duration of the set
  5. Look down and keep the head and neck in neutral (packing the neck might even be better).

Here’s the video:

To me this is a no-brainer. You get:

  1. Way more rectus abdominis and oblique activity (see chart below – 4X more lower ab, 3X more external oblique, and 2X more internal oblique)
  2. Way more glute max activity
  3. Low back pain prevention via several different mechanisms;
    • Teaches proper hip mechanics which will prevent lumbar hyperextension during hip extension movements
    • Teaches the glute max to force closure of the SI Joint during hip extension movements
    • I could go on as there are more mechanisms at play but you get the point

39 thoughts on “The RKC Plank

  1. Kyle Kennedy

    Hey Brett!
    One thing I’d like to add that I took away from Mark Verstegen at perform better is to: pronate your hands and try externally rotating as you push your forearms into the ground, as well as push your hands/forearms away from you. These two tips, along with the ones you mentioned really turned up the difficulty and made me realize what a real plank was!

    Reply
  2. Jini Cicero

    Great information; thanks for the breakdown…(especially the EMG.)

    I discovered the quad contraction component of a plank a while back. That and all the other points you covered here are terrific. Going to give this a try.

    Reply
  3. melek

    Tested it for more than a minute! My body started shaking like crazy in the end, fired glutes, deep core abdominal muscles and obliques. I will def try it on my clients . Thank you great teacher x

    Reply
  4. Will

    To me this is really surprising that smart folk such as yourself Bret are teaching this only now. I’ve listened to a whole Weingroff interview on this, and read a similar post by…I want to say Dean Somerset?? on the same thing.
    I mean, it’s great that this is getting out there, but to me, this is just a plank! Glad to have confirmed this one that I’ve got right early on. There’s no other way. It’s all about the glutes and holding that PPT and always has been. People think that a standard front plank is core 101. I’d contend that a basic glute bridge precedes this to learn how to hip extend, PPT and simply contract the glutes. If a client complains of back pain during a plank, I cue ‘Glutes’ or ‘Tuck’ and it’s rectified instantly.
    Notably, I NEVER cue to ‘brace’ during a plank. The focus is on the glutes and the abs/core takes care of itself.
    Lastly, people tend to forget that the exact same rules apply to a push up too – a push up is just a moving plank!
    Good stuff as always.

    Reply
    1. Bret Post author

      Hi Will, I think that most of the other guys focus on just posterior tilting to get out of anterior tilt (bringing to neutral). This is a bit hard as you’re toggling between ranges but it can be done. My take is to get into full PPT and stay there with strong glute contraction. I think this teaches good deadlift form and can help resist extension torques in the lumbar spine at lockout. I don’t cue the brace with many exercises either as it occurs naturally and I don’t believe in “over-bracing.” And if you read my push up article on TNation you’ll know I agree! The push up is indeed a moving plank and should be performed in PPT. Great comment!

      Reply
    1. Bret Post author

      Jeff, there are lots of variations…feet elevated, 3-point, weighted, side, side with abduction, side with foot elevated, etc. -BC

      Reply
  5. Trevor Judson

    Thanks Brett. These hurt in the best way!

    Watching the clip got me thinking about applying longer levers to the glute bridge. I found that with my legs nearly straight it doesn’t take much weight to really hammer the hamstrings as well as the glutes. It also seems to approximate the running motion (at least to my woefully uneducated eye) so maybe there might be some benefit there?

    Just a thought…

    Reply
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  8. Mike

    Hi Bret,

    Was reading an article on another website about muscle contraction, the author was talking about how contracting the glutes hard in exercises like the plank “teaches the body to use high threshold or max effort strategies when a lower threshold or submax effort is sufficient”.

    My question is isn’t the RKC plank teaching the body to do this and is that a bad thing as the author suggests?

    I can post up the link to the article if you like.

    Reply
    1. Bret Post author

      I’ll answer this in an upcoming blogpost. I think the supposition that an RKC plank will negatively impact motor learning by causing individuals to resort to high threshold strategies during on-the-field situations or functional situations is downright silly, and I’ve seen it mentioned many times before by various experts and even by people I respect. I suppose research is needed but my hypothesis is that these folks are way off base. Again, I’ll post in an upcoming blog.

      Reply
      1. Mike

        Thanks for the reply Bret.

        I thought it made some sense in that you are teaching the body to use other muscles to take over the strain, like when you have inactive glutes and therefore other muscles take over to complete movements, however I have very little knowledge of such things (which I have probably illustrated with this reply) so look forward to reading your blog post.

        Reply
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  14. Tasher

    Hey Bret,

    This is a fantastic article. I find myself referring to it every time I want to explain core work. I will be sending a direct link to this article. (I have read it 4 or 5 times and I think its best to link to it directly rather than try to regurgitate it.)I have incorporated this into my programs with my clients, as well as my own training. As a soccer player/coach, I always read your posts, assimilating them with respect to my sport. It is all so applicable I make reference to you in a good number of own blog which is just starting. Its still small enough that I can track the biggest source of traffic for me and it has been your blog for several months now. Thanks for that, and for the inspiration as a writer, researcher and coach.

    Reply
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  16. Patrick

    Hi Brat,

    Great article! I’ve tried the RKC plank and I can PPT and squeeze my glutes just fine. The only problem is that everytime I have to stop the plank, because the tension still goes to the lower back. Do u have any advice on how to deal with this?

    Reply
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