The Correct Way to do a Plank

Plank is a simple but most effective total-body exercise.   Holding the body stiff and straight as a board develops strength primarily in the core — the muscles that connect the upper and lower body — as well as the shoulders, arms, and glutes.

A plank is a static exercise, which means the body stays in one position for the entire exercise. One of the main reason the plank stand out as a great exercise is that it requires no equipment and can be performed just about anywhere . Another excellent feature is that the plank can be preformed numerous ways, depending on your strength and expertise level. Below are some of the most common forms of a plank, along with some of the most common plank mistakes.

THE BASICS

basic plank

1. Plant  your hands directly under the shoulders (slightly wider than shoulder width apart) like the starting position of a push up

2. Ground the toes into the floor and squeeze the glutes to stabilize the bottom half of the body. The legs should be working in the move too, careful not to lock the knees to hyperextension.   Make sure that your body is in one straight line
3. Relax the neck and spine by looking at the floor about a foot in front of your hands. Your head should be in line with your back.
4. Hold the position for 20 seconds to begin, as you gain strength and confidence increase the length of time.

VARIATIONS

 

Fore Arm Plank

forearm plank
This variation, also one of the most common ways to plank, is slightly easier than holding the body up with just the hands. Place your forearms on the ground with your elbows aligned below the shoulders and arms parallel to your body at about shoulder-width distance.

Knee Plank

knee plank

This plank is easier than holding the traditional straight-arm plank, but it’s great place to start, as you can concentrate on your form. By resting the knees on the ground, there’s less stress on the lower back. If you knees feel uncomfortable, roll up a sticky mat to rest them on.

Side Plank

side arm plank

This variation is more advance than the standard plank and is great for your obliques (the side muscles of the core). Lie on one side with your legs stacked one on top of the other and then prop your body up with your hand or elbow. To increase the intensity, raise your opposing arm or leg (or both!) in the air. And if you are struggling you can cross the upper leg in front of your body for additional support.

THE MOST COMMON MISTAKES AND HOW TO FIX THEM

The Mistake: Collapsing Your Lower Back.

The Fix: Instead of compromising your lower back by dipping your tush, engage your core by imagining your belly button drawing in toward your spine. This will help you keep your torso flat, and in turn, the spine safe.

The Mistake: Reaching the Butt to the Sky.

The Fix: Planks aren’t supposed to look like a downward dog. To really get your core working the way it should in the plank position, keep your back flat enough so that your abs feel engaged from your top (right below the sternum) to your bottom (directly below the belt).

The Mistake: Letting Your Head Drop

The Fix: It’s important to think of your head and neck as an extension of your back. Keep your eyes on the floor about a foot in front of your hands to neutralize your neck. Try not to tense up your shoulders

The Mistake: Forgetting to Breathe

The Fix: It’s human nature to hold your breath when in a strenuous position for a period of time. But breathing is especially important because holding your breath for too long can bring on dizziness or nausea.

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8 thoughts on “The Correct Way to do a Plank

  1. If you really want to strengthen your core, keep your arms slightly bent and bring your legs together a little more. Also, if you want to work on triceps, take your hands and bring them together in a diamond. It really works and results are fast. Start out for about 2 minutes and work your way up. Try and do it at least 3 times per day and start with 2 minutes, then 4, then 6. Then after a couple of days, start at 4 minutes, then 6, then 8 and just keep going. Once you hit 10 minutes, do it 2x per day. Eventually, you will only need to do it once per day and your core will be so strong that you could be in the position for more than a half hour.

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