Planks get a lot of bad press. Whether it’s some world record holder planking for hours (yaaaaaawn) or some hippy-dippy guru trying to align their chakras whilst holding the pose – it’s hard to get excited about planks.
However, done right – they are an amazing exercise for your core stability and getting a flat, toned belly.
We’ve all done a plank. If you haven’t, see the picture above!
What we will do now though, is make it harder and more effective.
- Shoulders in line with elbows, upper arms vertical – you are supporting yourself, not pushing away.
- Keep your upper back engaged, hips in a neutral position and squeeze your buttocks hard. They should almost be cramping with the effort, that’s how hard you’re squeezing. A common mistake is to let your hips sag. Bad! Keep them neutral or even elevated slightly.
- Flex your quads hard (flexing quads is straightening the leg). You should feel them go rock solid. Squeeze your inner thighs hard too.
- Engage your lats. Imagine someone is trying to tickle your armpits. The arms should not move from their position when you do this.
- Finally, keep your neck neutral, arms straight down, resting on your forearms, breathing normal.
Done properly, with full body tension you should find you can hold a plank 30 – 45 seconds, maybe topping out at 3 minutes max. Remember, we aren’t just flopping around on the ground. Imagine we want to turn our bodies into a steel rod whilst we hold the plank!