We love us a good plank. A simple but effective bodyweight exercise, planking strengthens the core (hello, six-pack!) shoulders, arms, and glutes all in one exercise. From where we stand that's fitness multitasking at its best.
There's just one tiny problem - most fitness addicts are planking all wrong and failing to get the benefits from the exercise. Yes, even you. The next time you hit the gym pay attention to these four tips for planking perfection.
Four Tips for a Perfect Plank
- Wrist placement matters. The biggest mistake we see in plank execution is wrist /elbow placement. Plant your wrists (or elbows depending on variation) directly under the shoulders (think push-up position). The tendency is to shift backwards, especially when experiencing shoulder fatigue. Embrace the burn. Keep wrists in place to activate shoulder stability muscles and avoid undue stress on joints.
- Engage your core. Drop that butt. Planks aren’t supposed to look like a downward dog. To avoid an ever rising tush, imagine your belly button pulling in toward the spine.This will help keep the torso flat, spine safe, and abs engaged.
- Heads up! Proper flank form starts at the toes and travels all the way up to the head. Keep your eyes on the floor, focusing about a six inches in front of the hands. This not only protects your neck it also opens up the ribcage and makes breathing easier.
- Breathe. Speaking of breathing, don't hold your breath! It’s human nature to hold your breath when performing a strenuous core exercise but doing so impacts endurance. Use planking as an opportunity to take control of the breath. Controlled, box breathing has long been utilized by athletes for better performance. Learn more about the technique, here.
Ready to get your planking on? Use this two week plan to work up to a one minute plank. You'll be a planking pro in no time!
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