A Few Tricks To Make Your Life Easier When Holding a Plank
We all know planks are the well- touted core exercise of the almond milk dynasty of health and fitness, but as a personal trainer, I can't even begin to count how many times I have witnessed someone doing one incorrectly. Below are a few form tweaks (note: see a personal trainer if you want to make sure you're doing everything correctly in a plank), this small checklist will help you as you are timing your 30-60 seconds of misery (for clarity and accuracy, I am talking about a forearm plank):
1. Put some of your weight into your palms and fists.
The plank is a full body exercise--use your whole body and don't allow your hands and forearms to be floppy as fish. With your shoulders lined up directly above the elbows, thinking about the weight being poured into your hands helps you to keep your chest open and fire up your shoulder girdle (Planking 101: If you're wearing your shoulders as earring, your chest can't possibly be open. Pull those suckers away from your ears).
2. Squeeze everything. Especially your butt.
Squeezing your butt is a really good way to protect your lower back, and in doing so, usually the quads follow. Engaging your quads and rear also make it easier to fire up/feel those abdominals and keep your hips lined up with your shoulders, knees, & heels. Which brings me to my next point:
3. If you are going to err, err butt up.
Do not let your hips sink down. If you're feeling any lower back compression or pain in your plank, this is probably where you're screwing up in form (& I would stop/cut your plank short). We want to keep your lower back happy at all costs.
4. One final tip: do a body scan.
From toe to head, I like to take inventory to ensure that I am squeezing every muscle possible when I hold my planks. Calves, quads, butt--all the way up to the shoulder girdle, forearms, biceps and fists. The only piece of me I try to keep relaxed is my jaw and my face. Engage as many muscle groups as you can, and you'll be planking like a badass. You may not be able to hold it as long, but this is a good thing as you'll probably be doing it more effectively.