PLANKING - ONE MOVE, WORKING YOUR WHOLE BODY
Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.
Which muscles are affected by the plank exercise?
Planking strengthens your whole body, especially the core, including muscles in your back, legs, hips, glutes, shoulders and chest. As with most things in life, the more you practice, the stronger and better you get.
That means, The longer you can hold the plank, the higher your resistance to fatigue gets. On top of that it might help improve your posture, reduces back pain and boosts your performance in every kind of sporting activity.
How to do a proper plank
There are many different ways to achieve the perfect plank, but here’s a step-by-step breakdown on how to do a high plank.
Get into a tabletop position with your forearms on the ground, your shoulders directly over your elbows and hips in line with your knees.
- Choose a spot on the floor between your hands to hold your gaze.
- Engaging your abs (imagine pulling your bellybutton in towards your spine when breathing out). Engage your shoulders, back, and glutes, extend your legs back to straighten into a plank and hold.
- If you can, do the exercise in front of a mirror, to check that your butt isn’t raised. (A common mistake, but your body should be flat as opposed to an upside down-V shape.)
For a modified plank, research suggests dropping to your knees instead of holding yourself up on your toes. Get on all fours and walk your hands forward so your body forms a slanted line from your head to knees, like you would in a modified push-up. To recruit the glutes and hamstrings, keep your feet lifted toward your butt. Once you master this variation, you can work your way up to a forearm plank by placing your forearms on the ground.
Common plank mistakes:
Rather hold the plank for a shorter time than doing the movement with incorrect posture.
If your upper body drops down, your shoulders are inactive and without tension. This mistake can lead to lower back pain. Imagine holding one straight line from your shoulders to your feet and don’t forget to squeeze your glutes – this is always very important.
Through bent knees you give your glutes a break and loosen tension in the body, reducing the effectiveness of the exercise. Straighten your legs and pull your kneecaps up your thighs to support your hips and maintain proper form.
- Body not in a straight line
Either your glutes are raised too high or your hips sink to the ground. Both are signs of a weak core and by doing this, you are reducing the effectiveness of the exercise.
Keep your head in a neutral position to extend your spine and keep it straight. Fix a spot on the floor a few inches in front of you to make sure that you don’t crane your neck up or drop your head down to the chest.
How long should you hold a plank?
Aim to hold a plank for 15 seconds, then work your way up to 30, 45, 60 seconds, and so on. Instead of watching the clock, we suggest setting a timer. This way you’re not painstakingly watching the seconds go by. Don’t forget to also use your breath, deeply inhaling and exhaling. By focusing on your breath, you’ll be able to help set your mind at ease throughout the uncomfortableness.