What is a Plank?
A plank is by far one of the most challenging bodyweight exercises to perform. Not only does it challenge your entire core (including your back), it is a full body exercise, challenging your shoulders and legs too. The plank is a great strengthening exercise and so versatile: it can literally be performed anywhere, at home, at the gym, in the office, even on the street! You can challenge yourself by setting a timer every time you perform this exercise and it is really motivating to see your plank time increase – it means you are getting stronger.
Form is extremely important when performing the plank, therefore it is advised that you follow this ‘how to’ carefully and start on your knees if necessary – you will still be working your core and shoulders very effectively. If your back begins to ache at any point, stop, sit back in child’s pose (glutes resting back on your heels) and reset.
For the purpose of this ‘how to’ we will go through a forearm plank.
1) Start on a mat (a good quality, thick mat is advised to protect your forearms). Come onto your knees and forearms, forming a diagonal position.
2) Make sure your forearms are directly beneath your shoulders, at shoulder width apart. Do not hunch your shoulders. Imagine that your posture is elongated throughout this movement.
3) Push your shoulder blades back as if you are sliding them into their back pockets. Engage your core by pulling your belly button up and underneath your ribcage. This will engage your back muscles too.
4) Slowly lift one knee and come up onto your toes and then as you exhale again, repeat with the other leg to come into the full plank position.
5) Keep your head, neck and shoulders in line and push your heels back to fully engage the posterior chain. This will also help to prevent any back pain.
6) Breathe through your nose and out through your mouth throughout the movement.
7) Ideally, you want to keep your core pulled in throughout the duration of your plank. However, if at any point it begins to dome, rest and reset before resuming the plank position.
8) Hold for as long as you wish. Repeat if necessary.