The Proper Plank
The plank. No, we aren’t walking the plank in a pirate movie, but rather performing the exercise in the gym (figuratively speaking). Perhaps you have never heard of it, or on the flipside, it is already a part of your workout routine. Nevertheless, when performed correctly, this super exercise will not only strengthen the abdominal muscles but can also engage the legs, arms and glutes. That is exactly why the plank is one of my all time favorite total body exercises. However, no matter how familiar you are with this exercise, you could be doing it all wrong!
WHAT? Yep. That’s right!
Performing a plank incorrectly can decrease desired toning and strengthening results, cause muscle pain and stiffness and even lead to a strain or injury. After conducting my own simple study over a three week period and observing 24 group fitness classes of all levels of intensity from beginner to intermediate to advanced, I found that:
- On average, 75% of participating exercises began in the improper plank form.
- On average, 85% of participating exercisers had transferred from proper form to improper form within a minute of holding the exercise.
As a conclusion, I deduce that 8 out of 10 exercisers need some help tweaking form to do the perfect TOTAL BODY PLANK!
Let’s begin with the basics of proper…
Begin in a modified push-up position with your arms shoulder-width apart and bent at the elbows to form a 90 degree angle allowing both forearms to rest on the floor beneath you. Ensure your elbows are positioned in a straight line with your shoulders as you gaze straight toward the ground. Place your feet between shoulder to hip-width apart. Your body should form a perfectly straight line from the crown of your head to your heels.
- Hunching your back
- Dipping your hips
- Arching your hips
- Cupping your hands together
- Tilting to one side or the other
- Looking straight ahead
For what to avoid, see the photo below:
Instead try these tips…
- Squeeze the shoulder blades together
- Keep your spine in-line by thinking “table top” back
- Squeeze your glutes and legs
- Keep your tummy tucked
- Hold for as long as you can in perfect form, then repeat as many times as possible to build up your strength and time for a proper plank
Once you have perfected the proper plank, you are ready to try advance your workouts and improve your results!
– CASEY EDMONDS, CHC