If you have ever been to a gym chances are that you have seen, or performed, the plank exercise. In its basic form you hold your body up in a push-up position anywhere from 30 seconds to over an hour (though I wouldn’t suggest holding for that long). While it’s an exercise promoted for core strength and stabilization, it’s actually an exercise that, when executed properly, can also work the muscles in your arms, shoulders, back and legs. With that being said, let’s talk about proper form.
1. The easiest way to make sure you are in the correct position is to start by lying flat on the ground with your feet slightly apart. Position your hands right next to your chest so that your palms are directly under your shoulders. Make sure your fingers are spread wide. *If you have tight or weak wrists, you can perform a variation by putting your elbows on the ground right under your shoulders to prop you up.
2. Curl your toes under and push your upper body up leaving your knees and feet on the floor. Swivel your arms (not hands) so your elbows are pointing back towards your body then lock your arms out so they are nice and straight. In this position you should be making one straight line from your head to your knees.
3. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and down. This will prevent you from scrunching your shoulders up to your ears. Tuck your tailbone slightly under and squeeze your abs, butt, and legs extending to a straight position. You are now in a perfect plank.
4. Once in position, gaze slightly forward (not down or at your feet). This will keep your neck happy. You should be able to draw a straight line from the top of your head to your heels. (No sagging back or butt sticking up). Make sure that your arms are locked, shoulders are away from your ears and your tail bone is tucked. Tucking the tailbone will save your low back and put more of a demand on the lower abdominal muscles.
Take a moment to feel your body in this position. This is where you want to be each time you get into a plank. If you’re new to this exercise, start slow with a 30 second plank each morning or night and work your way up to one or two minutes. If you have little ones in the house, get them involved by timing you and cheering you on. Once you are able to comfortably hold a plank for a minute, you will be able to do all sorts of fun variations.