When it come’s to plank, I think we are talking about one of the best core exercises out there which also strengthens your back and shoulders. For the ladies, if you read my post about Ante and Post Natal fitness you’ll understand why we need to put in the ground work now! For the guys (and still the gals) our core should be engaged and working, without having to think about it, anytime you’re on your feet!
The plank is one of those core moves which we should master before moving on to compound and more complex variations. It is an isometric exercise; this means you hold the position for a period of time. Read on to find out how to nail the perfect plank position…
How To Do A High Plank:
1. Begin with your hands placed directly under your shoulders
2. Lift your knees off the floor onto your toes into a press up position
2. Imagine there’s a straight line running from your ears, through your shoulder, hips, knees and then to your toes. There should be no sagging or bending of your spine and the weight should be over your shoulders.
Plank Form Considerations:
- Engage your core by pulling your belly button towards your spine
- Squeeze your shoulder blades together in order to lift ‘up and out’ of your shoulder joint to help maintain your posture.
- Focus your eyes above your fingertips to maintain a neutral position in your neck.
…And there you have it! Now, just don’t forget to breathe! How long you hold a plank for depends on your ability; if you are new to this exercise I would aim for 20 – 30 seconds to start with or try the modified plank (down on your knees). For those who are more experienced, aim to remain in position for 1 minute with good technique.
RELATED: Want to nail another fundamental exercise? Read How To Squat.
Progressing To Plank Variations
Once you can hold your plank and maintain good form, you can keep your core challenged by using different variations. The jury is out (in my opinion) on whether doing a plank on your elbows is harder, and therefore more effective, than on your hands in the press up position. What do you think? …I’ve made a note to do some investigations and I’ll prob be able to write it up in a post of it’s own!
The variations for the plank exercise are endless though but I do have a few firm favourites! One has to be the ‘Cardio Plank’ which brings a cardiovascular element into what is usually just a strength exercise. You simply start in a high plank position with both feet together. With a focus on maintaining a neutral spine position while jumping your feet out to hip width distance and back again.
Side plank is definitely another favourite of mine which works your obliques, the muscles which wrap around your torso. Begin by laying on your side, placing your elbow on the floor just under your shoulder. Lift your hips up towards the ceiling and come onto that elbow, keep your body stiff with a line running straight through from head to toe. Hold for 30 seconds each side.
Add this one to your habit tracker i.e do a plank everyday, challenge yourself and see the difference a strong core can make…
p.s Safety always comes first. If you are new to exercise ensure you seek advice from your GP. Make sure you drink plenty of fluids, wear appropriate clothing and carry out drills in a suitable space. Technique is paramount, and nothing should hurt. Should you experience pain, discomfort, nausea, dizziness, chest pain, shortness of breath etc, STOP and consult your GP.