Better than a thousand ab crunches, the Plank is often voted by many fitness professionals as the BEST overall exercise you can do. The Plank not only fires up all layers of the abdominals, but it also strengthens your back, legs, arms, shoulders, and glutes. So, why wouldn’t you Plank when it does so many great things for you all in one exercise? However, it’s important to learn how to correctly perform a plank to get the maximum benefits. Holding a plank with improper form can lead to increased fatigue (meaning you can’t hold it as long) or potential back problems.
Why you should be doing the Plank
- It strengthens your back, legs, arms, shoulders, glutes, and even your lungs!
- It helps improve your posture, balance and flexibility
How to perform the Plank
While on your hand and knees, align your hands directly under your shoulders and knees directly under your hips.
Extend one leg back with flexed toes, then extend the other leg to get to your beautiful plank position.
Get into the perfect form:
- The weight of your body supported on your hands and feet
- Keep your back long and head in line with you body
- Eye gaze is down to the floor, just a few inches in front of your hands
Hold this perfect form, contraction for 30 seconds.
Plank Tips: Start to slowly increase your time as you get stronger. Breathing is a must to be able to hold your Plank for any period of time. Remember: If you hold your breath… you won’t be able to hold your plank!
Perform the Plank on your forearms instead of your hands. This doesn’t necessarily make it any easier to hold, but it does put less strain on your wrist. Just remember to keep the perfect form!
Ready for a challenge? Try:
- Plank on the Reformer for a challenge.
- Plank with TRX straps for an extra challenge.
- Side Planks to fire up the obliques and challenge your core strength.
- Add movements, such as leg lifts or going from hand to forearms and back.
Plank Tips: If you can hold a two-minute plank, it’s a sign that you’re fit (A great goal for most people!)
Three minutes is a great time for an advanced level.
A five-minute plank meets athlete status! Instead of adding on more time once you’re able to hold for five minutes, try increasing the intensity by adding the challenging moves mentioned above!
With a background in fitness, dance and choreography, Julianne knew a career in Pilates was the perfect combination of her professional and personal interests. Her passion is to create a fun, safe class that will inspire you to work hard and achieve your ultimate fitness goal!
Learn more about Julianne and the other ABC Pilates Instructors »