The plank is such a great move and one that requires little effort, but GREAT effort-all at the same time. However, because of this, most people do the planks incorrectly or do not get the full benefits from the exercise itself.
It works all of the muscles in your core, including the rectus abdominus (the "six-pack muscles" you can see), transverse abdominus, internal and external obliques, hips, back, deltoids, and even your quadriceps.
Here are 3 ways to instantly improve your planks to get the most out of them!
1. Check Yourself!
Positioning is everything in fitness! If you do the exercise incorrectly, you could potentially hurt yourself or just simply be wasting your time-neither things we both want!
Here's how to plank correctly:
- Start off on a yoga mat in the pushup position. Starting with the pushup position is the easiest way to get into the plank.
- Lower both your forearms to the ground so that both your elbows and fists are flat to the ground. Your palms should be balled up, and directly underneath your shoulders.
- Curl your toes under and engage your abs by tilting your pelvis and pulling your belly button toward your spine.
- Straighten your body but keep your neck and spine neutral. Imagine that you’re a plank of wood, and that you’re straight as an arrow.
- Flex your abdominals and squeeze your glutes. These are the two major muscle groups you’ll be working out in this exercise.
- Hold this position, also known as the plank, until after the burning begins. Keep your eyes on the floor in front of you. Avoid raising your behind. Your body should make a straight line from your heels to the back of your head.
If you're in doubt, check your stance in the mirror or have a partner watch you.
2. Hold it right there!
When it come to planking, most people do not hold them long enough. Sure, it is hard to do and its easy to cave in quickly, but you need to time yourself to make sure you are holding the pose long enough for it to make it count! Use your iPhone timer or a stopwatch and have a specific number of seconds in mind.
3. Breathe it all in.
One thing to help you improve your planks is to remember to BREATHE! I found that once I got up past 20 seconds, it was important to breathe. At first it was really hard to breathe, because I was tensing all my muscles. So I had to make a conscious effort to do it. But once I got the hang of breathing while planking, I could increase my time. Awake or asleep we breathe an average of 12 times a minute, but during heavy or intense physical exercise, the breathing rate will increase considerably: up to 80 minute! More of a reason to control your breathing.
Photo source: Healthy Jamaican
, Bicycling Bliss