Oh heyyyy plank pose – I see you! Or, more likely, I FEEL you. Abs shaking, shoulders tired, booty wanting to call it a day and lift into downward facing dog. All that challenge equals one heck of a workout though – it’s no wonder planks are the go to workouts of celebrity trainers, pro-athletes, models and more! Unfortunately plank is easy to avoid (Netflix, anyone?) and easy to mess up – either of which could be seriously sabotaging your workout progress without you even knowing it. (Not to mention making you prone to injury!) Unstable? Bad plank posture? Fitness newbie unsure of what’s what? Let’s review the stages of planking (yes, there is a correct progression), as well as some handy tricks and tips to make your next plank your best one yet!
This is ideal for gym newbies and those unsure of proper form. Begin in tabletop position (on all fours, wrists almost beneath your shoulders and knees directly beneath your hips) and then slide your legs back until you’re forming a straight diagonal line downward with your spine. Readjust your weight to the front of your body so that your shoulders are almost on top of your wrists and hold. Start with 3 sets of 20-30 seconds.
WIDE LEG HIGH PLANK
Start in tabletop again, but this time step back with your left foot and then your right. Next, pick up each foot and place it down slightly wider than hip distance. Your legs should be making an A shape of sorts. This will help balance you out as you transition into a full plank. Brace your core (visualize sucking in your belly button), and make sure that your booty is down and in line with the rest of you. Try holding for 3 sets of 10 seconds and build your way up to 30 consecutive seconds.
Now that you’ve mastered the wide leg plank, it’s time to take it to the next level! Find your plank position (wrists under shoulders and spine in good alignment), but this time draw your legs together in a straight line. Continue bracing your abs and back. This pose should feel considerably harder! That’s ok though – the wobble means it’s working! Work your way up 30 consecutive seconds using the same 10 second rounds from before.
Once you’re comfortable (ok, maybe not comfortable, but, ya know, managing), with high plank it’s time to drop further to the ground and, in doing so, take the intensity up a notch. Find your plank position and then lower yourself to your forearms, one at a time. Keep your line of sight a few feet ahead of you so that your neck remains in proper alignment. Try holding for 3 sets of 10 seconds and build your way up to 30 consecutive seconds.
When you can hold high and forearm plank with good form the world becomes your oyster. Side planks, one legged planks, opposite leg/arm planks, side planks with knee drives… whatever crazy concoction you can think of, is possible – with some practice, that is! Stay posted for a “best of planks” feature, coming soon!