The plank is one of my favourite exercises to incorporate both into my own training, and into that of my clients. It is a foundational position, helps to strengthen the 'core' and develop connection between the ribcage and pelvis, and can be easily modified to alter the level of difficulty! Here are some key points to think about when you're performing a plank:
- Stack your shoulders over your wrists/elbows and think about pressing into the floor (like you're trying to push it away from you) in order to keep your shoulders active.
- Squeeze your bum! Having a hard timing conceptualizing what this feels like? Imagine theres a $1 or $100 bill in there and hold on tight.
- Tighten your abs! Please make sure you focus on this, because it doesn't just happen as soon as you get into a plank position. I like to imagine that someone is going to come over and kick me in the belly while I'm in the planking. You may find your abdominal and even legs muscles start to shake or twitch as you begin to do this. Thats normal!! If your low back is burning, or you're finding that your belly is 'drooping' towards the ground, you may need more work on this step.
- BREATHE! (often)
- Reach the crown of your head towards a far wall, keeping your back and neck straight, and your shoulders away from your ears. Thinking about 'double chinning' yourself to find and hold this position.
To modify the plank, there are a lot of options at your disposal. To regress or make this exercise easier, you can spread your feet further apart (to form a triangle shape) or drop your knees to the ground (be sure to maintain a plank position i.e. don't let your bum come up into a tabletop position).
Looking to "up the ante?" Once you can hold a strict plank for at least one minute, give these modifications a try:
- Lift one foot - make sure both hips and both shoulders stay parallel to the ground. Do both sides.
- Alternate lifting one hand and tapping the opposite elbow/shoulder - again, keep both hips and shoulders facing the ground
- Alternate extending each leg out to the side
- Play tug of war! Find a friend, grab a towel, and hold on to one end each! Try to maintain your position as your 'friend' pulls the towel away from you, then switch. Make sure you do both sides!
Mastering the plank will help you in ways you can't even imagine! It will help you maintain position and prevent power leaks during other dynamic exercises such as squats, push ups, and even running! It will also help you to avoid injury and to perfect your posture! If you have any questions for me, fire away! Happy planking friends!