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Planks are amazing for your core, but they work everything else too… when they’re done properly. Read below for tips on how you can make yours more effective.
Make sure your elbows/hands line up with your shoulders.
1. WIDEN YOUR BASE. The wider your base, the easier it is to balance: take feet wide apart, instead of having them together. Hands should also be shoulder width apart or wider: whereever’s comfortable. SPREAD your fingers: a wider base through the hands and weight in the palm will help too.
2. SQUEEZE EVERYTHING. Flex your quads, tighten your core and squeeze your butt. Keeping everything stiff and tightened, will work your whole body AND help you stabilize.
3. DON’T LOOK AT YOUR FEET. Keep your eyes forward, and let them fall in front of your fingertips. When you look towards the toes, it throws off your center. Try to look at a spot about 2-3 feet in front of you.
4. STRAIGHTEN YOUR BODY LIKE A LINE FROM THE TOP. Think straight body line from the top part of you (not the underside). Hips should be lifted, and in line with your shoulders: like a table top. For those with back issues, this will take the pressure off considerably. Many people do their planks thinking a straight line from the underside, NOT the top, which can put too much pressure on your low back.
5. HEELS FLEXED. Flex THROUGH the feet, with heels pushing towards the back of the room (toes fall in slightly front of them). This helps engage the lower body and helps with stability, and a good stretch too.
6. PRETEND THE FLOOR IS TRYING TO CRUSH YOU. Imagine you’re lying on your back and the floor is actually trying to smush you. Think about keeping it away from you, instead of holding yourself up. Arms are straight but not overly locked.
7. BREATHE. Focus on your breathing, nice deep big breaths.
8. ENGAGE THE CORE. Pull your belly button in towards your back. You don’t want the hips to sag down. If your lower back hurts in plank, 99% of the time it’s because the core isn’t engaged properly.
FINDING YOUR MAX PLANK: Don’t watch the time. Instead, wait until it starts to get hard. Then VERY hard. Then count slowly to 10-20 before releasing. Many people can hold plank for MUCH longer than they think they can, but if you only try to reach 30 seconds, you may never know that you can actually do 45 or 60. Distract yourself, breathe and focus.