Why do so many trainers talk about planks? What do they really do for you? How do you know if you’re doing a plank with good form? This blog post will help you sort out the truth about planks and give you a short guide on how to plank with proper form so you can be successful.
Planks are one of the most effective body weight exercises when done correctly. When you hold a plank you engage almost every muscle in the body but most importantly, a plank will help build your core muscles (to include not only your abs but also your shoulders, glutes, back, and pelvic floor). Core muscles are used in everyday movement and help protect your spinal column and back as well as help prevent injuries. Perfecting your plank can help improve core definition, prevent back injuries and improve your posture and balance.
Proper plank form takes practice. If you are a beginner, start upright on the wall and then slowly move down to the ground while also aiming to hold a plank for 15-20 seconds. As you increase your core strength you can hold plank for up to about a minute; if you start to go past a minute than it is time to create more movement or change it up.
Here are the basic steps to an elbow plank:
- Lay on your belly with your elbows directly below your shoulders and hands flat on the mat or rotated to face the sky
- Push yourself up so your neck and back stay in line.
- Engage the core so your low back doesn’t sink (think zip up from the pelvic bone to the rib cage).
- Push your heels back away from your body while engaging your glutes, core and shoulder muscles (to modify, stay on your knees)
- Press up through your shoulders, so that your shoulder blades are pushing out and around towards the side of your back (not falling in towards your spine)
- Keep your neck long and straight while looking out in front of your fingertips
- Do not lift your neck up, think chin down towards chest.
- Increase time as much as you can, up until a minute.
There are of course reasons why you should not being doing plank. That includes having diastasis recti (DR or split abs). The reason why you don’t want to hold plank if you have DR is because you are putting a lot of pressure down on the abdominal wall and if you haven't learned to control the pressure (your breathing) you can create to much pressure which can keep you from healing your diastasis recti. If you are unsure whether you have Diastasis Recti, please check out our YouTube playlist or grab our FREEBIE while you wait for our Core Connection Program to start.