All of my clients plank- WHY? Because planks strengthen your core from the inside out. They also help to strengthen your lower back, they help to develop your core muscles – which include the abs, back, hips and the butt. Planks also help to avoid injuries and encourage good posture. A great benefit to planking is that they can be done anywhere at anytime, like while on vacation. I usually have my clients plank during their warm up to activate their core.
As a personal trainer I see so many people ‘butchering’ the plank. The most common problems I see in planks is a sinking low back, arched back with the hips in the air. This is the type of plank usually favored by people who say a plank is “too easy.” A few other problems are heads down and lack of proper breathing. So to make sure you are properly planking below is a brief HOW TO along with proper progressions.
Start off by getting into a plank position: propped on your forearms, elbows in line with your shoulders, hands straight out from your elbows, neck straight so your nose is pointing straight down to the ground and your toes planted firmly. The most important element of a good plank is a neutral spine. If a stick was placed on you while you were planking the stick would touch the back of your head, your shoulder blade area and your butt. While holding the plank you need to breath and make your stomach move like a balloon. This technique recruits all the core muscles, so you shouldn’t be talking to your workout buddy or just hanging out. Start by taking a deep breath in from your nose to inflate the stomach (make it big) and then blow hard out of your mouth (I like to picture that I am blowing away feathers) to make your stomach small.
Below are proper progressions:
Hold for 30 seconds with no low back pain
Hold for 60 seconds with no low back pain
Add arm drivers in all 3 planes of motion (sagittal, frontal & transervse)
Add leg drivers in all 3 planes of motion (sagittal, frontal & transverse)
High Plank with arm and leg drivers
Plank on Stability Ball
Plank on Stability Ball with arm drivers (circles, back & forth)
Plank with added weight put on your back
Plank with cable pulls