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Olympian shares her killer plank routine: Final challenge

Canadian track star Sage Watson's core routine that focuses on form and takes just minutes to complete.

2016 Olympian Sage Watson will have to wait another year before she has a chance to compete again at the Olympics in the 400 m hurdles. She’s been sharing a series of core exercises online, giving athletes the chance to win some Nike shoes.

by Madeleine Kennedy

Like most runners, Sage Watson is getting her workouts done primarily inside and solo. The runner, a Medicine Hat, Alta. native, has moved home to socially distance with her family. If you’re looking for some workout inspiration, Watson’s got you covered with four weeks of plank challenges. These challenges will culminate in a contest for a new pair of Nike shoes. An added bonus, the 400m hurdler walks you through the technique of every exercise, so you can perfect your plank.

Week 4: Final Plank Challenge

Watson suggests that you “engage your glutes” before you raise your hips and ensure that your elbows are under your shoulders for a proper front plank.

Week 3:

If runners are looking for an added challenge, consider stringing all three weeks of exercises together for five minutes of core work. Each week builds on itself, so by Week Four you’ll have mastered a core routine that’s perfect for some post-run strength work.

Plank with shoulder touch – Get into a plank position, with your arms straight (instead of bent). From there, lift one arm to touch its opposite shoulder. Be sure to engage your core and keep your hips as level as possible as you switch your arms. Hold for one minute.

Mountain Climber – The mountain climber involves bringing your knees to your chest, one at a time, while maintaining the high-plank position. Again, focus on keeping your hips level, your back straight and driving your knees. Hold for one minute.

Week 2:

Alternating leg-lift plank – Watson recommends that runners lift their legs six inches off off the ground, alternating from side to side. It’s also important that they keep their backs level and arms square underneath their shoulders. Hold this position for one minute and focus on activating the glutes when you lift.

RELATED: Sage Watson’s killer five minute core workout

Week 1:

Adding some strength training to your weekly routine can seem daunting if you’re new to it–there’s a little more time involved, and also, runners typically prefer actually running to gym work. But core and strength training can offer a huge benefit longterm, especially when it comes to injury prevention.

Week one exercises

Front plank – For this exercise runners should focus on keeping their back level with the ground and engaging the entire core. You want your upper body to be in a straight line from your neck to your glutes. When doing this exercise, use a mirror if possible.

Left side plank – With side planks, keep your neck aligned with your body, as opposed to craned upwards.

Right side plank – On the other side, even though you’ll be a little fatigued, try and maintain your form. If you can’t, shorten the length of the rep (it’s better to do a shorter rep but maintain proper form).

Watson also explains modified versions of the plank for those who need it. Do each exercise for 30 seconds before switching. If 30 seconds feels too long, start at 20, and if it feels too easy, make it harder with weights or added time.