We need strong cores in order to maintain a stable torso or trunk while putting in work, whether it’s lifting heavy things, carrying a heavy load, or transferring power from our hips while throwing a punch or a ball.
The plank is a very useful core strength exercise. The key to its success is described in its name: you’re forming an immovable, stiff plank with your entire body. There are many different variations in performing this exercise, they also help strengthen our hips and pelvic floor, as well as our shoulders and arms.
The plank is the classic static core exercise and a good test of general core strength. The body is suspended between the toes and elbows, with the legs and trunk in a straight line. From toes to head, you must be firm, not flaccid. Rather than moving your body, as in a crunch, the abdominal muscles isometrically contract and hold you still.
Two Choices -Traditional or Elbow
While there are several variations, the traditional plank and the elbow plank are the favourites and ones you’ll see referenced. It seems the elbow plank is the one most commonly referred to as simply “the plank” so we better outline the differences.
The traditional plank is the basic starting position for all other variations. While not as challenging as the elbow plank, it is a great option for beginners or those looking to perfect their form. In addition to your core, the high plank also uses your body weight to sculpt your shoulders and arms.
Start in the push-up position, palms under shoulders, feet hip-width apart, toes tucked. Push up so arms are straight, back flat. Hold for 1 minute; lower back to start.
Elbow or Forearm Plank
If you’re looking to increase the burn, consider the elbow plank. Compared to the traditional plank, the elbow plank offers more of a challenge because it recruits more of your core muscles to do the work. To maximise this move, be sure your shoulders are aligned over your elbows and your body is in one straight line.
Get in push-up position, but this time with forearms on floor, elbows directly under shoulders. Lift hips so back is flat. Hold for 1 minute; lower to start.
The Plank – Correct Technique
Keep your whole body straight from the base of the skull all the way to the heels, and keep even breathing. Do not raise your butt up and flex the back – keep it straight!
Try holding for 20 secs each time. When 30 seconds is a breeze, increase the time by at least 5 seconds. The plank strengthens not only your core, but your total body, increasing core stability. There are more variations, like the side plank, on other pages so check the nav menu above.