The plank is a great exercise for building core strength and stability. Both of these are important for good posture and can give you a toned core once you’ve reached your weight loss goals.
Many people struggle with proper form when it comes to the plank, which can diminish your results and increase risk of injury. Following are four tips that will help you keep proper plank form. Then I’ll show you three plank variations to take your plank workout to the next level!
Proper Plank Form
- Keep your elbows directly below your shoulders. This will give you a solid base and force you to engage certain muscles that are needed for a flawless plank.
- Keep your neck and spine in a neutral position. To do this, look down and slightly in front of your hands while keeping your lower abdomen tight.
- Keep your lower body in line with your upper body. Avoid allowing your backside to drift up or down. This will help balance the workload among all the muscle groups being worked.
- Keep your muscles tight during the whole exercise. In order to achieve the main benefit of the plank, which is to work your core muscles, be sure that you engage all of these muscles for the entirety of the exercise.
These guidelines are important for any plank variation that you do. So remember them as we move on to some more complex plank variations.
Single Arm/Single Leg Plank
This variation involves lifting one body part off the ground in order to shift the emphasis of the muscles being worked. One way to do this is by lifting one body part off the ground for three seconds and then rotating between body parts. For example, you would first lift your right arm off the ground and hold it for three seconds, then your left arm, then your left leg and so on.
Exercise Ball Plank
Exercise ball planks will allow you to further build stability by forcing you to keep your balance on the ball while planking. This can be done by either putting your forearms up on the exercise ball or your feet. Keeping your core muscles tight and under control is especially important during this variation.
When you’re ready to really kick things up a notch with your planks, have a partner put some weighted plates on your back. This will push your core muscles to further adapt and strengthen once the regular plank becomes unchallenging.
Make sure to start with very light weights and progress when you know you can handle more weight. Place the plates on your glutes and/or your mid-back, but steer clear of your lower back. It’s really important to keep your abs strong and engaged so your back doesn’t bow!
Remember, you can get great strength with regular planks so don’t feel like you have to push yourself before you’re ready. Once you’ve mastered the regular plank, move on to some of the more challenging variations for even better results.
Like I said, planking is a great way to improve posture through core strengthening and stability, and you’ll love seeing your toned stomach once you’ve reached your weight loss goals! For more workouts, sign up to receive the free 12-week exercise program I’ve created – click the banner below!