Planking is a simple but effective bodyweight exercise. Holding the body stiff as a board develops strength primarily in the core, the muscles that connect the upper and lower body, as well as the shoulders, arms, and glutes.
This static exercise, meaning the body stays in one position for the entirety of the move, requires no equipment and can be performed just about anywhere.
2. Lower Back
1. Delts (top of arm)
2. Traps (shoulder)
3. Lats (upper back)
5. Glutes (bum)
6. Hamstrings (back of the upper leg)
1. Place the forearms on the ground with the elbows aligned below the shoulders, and arms parallel to the body at about shoulder-width distance. If flat palms bother your wrists, clasp your hands together. (Note: Any of the following plank variations can be performed with straight arms or in a forearm position.)
2. Ground the toes into the floor and squeeze the glutes to stabilize the body. Your legs should be working in the move too; careful not to lock or hyperextend your knees.
3. Neutralize the neck and spine by looking at a spot on the floor about a foot beyond the hands. Your head should be in line with your back.
4. Hold the position for 10 - 20 seconds. As you get more comfortable with the move, hold your plank for as long as possible without compromising form or breath.
How to avoid Injury
- Instead of compromising the lower back by dipping the bum, engage the core by imagining your belly button pulled in toward the spine. This will help keep the torso flat, and in turn, the spine safe.
- It’s human nature to hold your breath when in a strenuous position for a period of time. But denying yourself oxygen can bring on dizziness or nausea, which are unpleasant at best and dangerous at worst.
- Quality trumps the quantity of seconds ticking away when it comes to the plank. When your form begins to suffer, it’s time to call it quits. If the back begins to bow or the shoulders start to sink in, take a break.