How To Do a Plank: The Best Guide of 2021

This article will teach you how to do a plank the proper way. 

How to do a Plank
Photo by Sergio Pedemonte on Unsplash

There are a few instances in this world that make you realize the time passing by – from your favorite 3-minute long song to a half an hour trip from your house to a delicious diner.

However, holding a plank position is the one activity that lets you think how slow the time passes. How to do a plank can be smoothly explained via words. What requires effort is to execute it.

A plank is a strength-building exercise for those who are not aware of this exercise that works well for the entire body, especially for the core muscles. It gets your entire body to participate and benefit from it.

The initial pose looks similar to that of a push-up. A push-up uses your weight as resistance and utilizes upward and downward movement to work on your core muscles, essentially the upper body.

However, a classic plank does not demand much movement but holds a still position for a few seconds or takes longer if the body allows it.

While the plank exercise is beneficial, it is important to know how to do a plank. A few peculiarities about the exercise needs to be noted with utter carefulness.

Slight mismanagement of the posture, form, placement of elbows, palms, feet, or the curving or bulging of the back is to be taken paid attention to.

Several plank variations are inculcating different body forms and positions. A plank is considered an isometric move, which means that you build and strengthen your muscles without moving them.

Sure, this sounds breezy, but it requires thorough understanding to remain in the pose of a straight line.

Further, we discuss the plank variations and how to carry them out to achieve a strong core. Let’s find the different ways of how to do a plank!

How to do a Plank: The Traditional Way

Plank
By: Orion Production on Shutterstock

Step 1

Select an area where you have ample space and good ventilation. While physical well-being matters a lot, you must exercise in a room where you are comfortable and have sufficient space in every direction.

Step 2

It is highly recommended to use an appropriately cushioned exercise mat to be comfortable while holding a plank. A proper plank has a lot to do with the form, which is only achievable when you have proper support and cushioning.

Step 3

Facedown, have your forearms and toes set firmly on the floor. Your elbows should be right below your shoulder blades. Do not let your head stay in a stern position, but relax and make sure it looks down at the floor. Keep your feet hip-width apart.

Step 4

Engage your abdominal muscles and make your naval draw inwards towards your spine. At this stage, your torso must be rigid, and your body is forming a straight line with no bending or curving at all. Your shoulder should not be moving towards your ears.

This position is referred to as the Neutral position.

Step 5

Once you have achieved the proper plank position, stay at it for about at least 10 seconds.

As you keep getting comfortable with the position, you can hold it for 30 seconds and then notch it up to 45 seconds, too, or even a full minute!

Alternatively, this variation of planking is also referred to as a front plank or hover exercise.

Plank can be a difficult exercise to perform initially, and it may seem challenging to plank correctly. To build up enough strength, you can start with the table-top plank position.

How to Do a Plank: Table-top Plank Variation (building up strength)

To perform a lighter plank version, you can follow the table-top version, which is easier. To do so, follow the steps given below:

Step 1

Get on a table-top position, with your hands and knees on the ground.

Step 2

Attempt to pull your abs inwards. This will help you to keep your spine neutral.

Step 3

Tuck your toes under and pull your knees off the ground slightly and slowly to take it up a notch. Alternatively, you can also have your leg stacked with some weight.

This method of planking will assist you in building core strength as it minimizes the pressure falling over your feet.

How to Do a Plank: The Incline Plank

Another plank position that can help you build core strength with relative ease is the incline plank.

Step 1

Your palms can be rested on a bench or any elevated surface. Just be sure that your elbows are directly aligned under your shoulders.

Step 2

Distance your feet as far back as much it takes for your back to be in a straight line.

Step 3

Tuck the tailbone while simultaneously you pull your abs inwards. At this moment, press firmly onto your palms.

The above two methods help you build core strength while keeping your core engaged minimally. After you get smoother at this exercise, you can try more challenging versions of planks. These are strength-building and enhance your core stability.

How to Do a Plank: The Challenging Way

The following versions to perform a plank engage your core, improve stability, and help your body overall from providing better posture to avoiding unwanted internal injuries.

  1. Side Plank on Your Forearm:

Begin by placing your right forearm on the ground while the rest of your body is straight and makes a precise ninety-degree angle with the right forearm. Have the shoulder directly above your elbow.

Further, lift your body through your hips as high as possible – but remember not to stress it. This method is also referred to as a Forearm plank.

2. Plank March:

The starting position remains the same basic plank position. First comes the right arm – replace the right elbow with the right palm. The next step would be to replace the elbows with palms – not at once swiftly.

Follow the same method for your left arm as well. Then, get back to the starting position of elbows being touched to the ground.

3. Plank Row:

Begin with a high plank position but have your right hand hold a resistance band with good elasticity. Keep your core tight, with your body in the proper form of straightness.

Pull the resistance band inwards till your chest, with your left elbow (or right), must be closer to your side. Get back to the initial position and repeat. Instead of the resistance band, you can also use dumbbells.

Dumbbells for plank row
Photo by The Lazy Artist Gallery from Pexels

Benefits of Plank

Benefits of plank
Photo by Li Sun from Pexels

When a full plank position is carried out correctly, the exercise creates healthy tension in the entire core by utilizing the entire body. This, in turn, is excellent for building and strengthening core muscles and is great for maintaining a good back posture.

This heavy exercise is light on preparing – you need none! Just your exercise mat and a good quantity of motivation.

Since planks stabilize your core, they help you run better and a lot faster. Not only that, it helps balance your overall and structure makes you more efficient in every activity you carry out.

The exercise engages your body, and thus, it helps you burn substantial calories.

Beginners are advised to start with a minimum of 10 seconds of holding the position. Once comfortable with the basics, do not hesitate to perform a forearm plank or side plank.

Common Plank Mistakes to Avoid

  1. When your abs reach their extent of fatigue, this is when your hips will begin to sag. The moment you reach this limit, know that you are now supposed to terminate the hold.
  2. A perfect plank requires you to keep your body – including your head – in a straight line. Please do not attempt to move your neck in any other direction as this can cause additional stress on your neck and spine, straining them.
  3. Do not arch your back. Arching your back when holding a high plank position will essentially take away the engagement of abs and transfer it on your arms.
  4. Other than the points mentioned above, it is important not to let too much stress come up on any side of your body. For instance, when done wrongly, the forearm plank position causes your left side through your left forearm to carry on more stress.

Improper planks may cause painful cramps or muscle pain, mostly radiating from shoulder pain to something serious as a spine injury.

Plank for core building
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Every core workout includes planks because they provide noteworthy results. The improvement can also be observed in your shoulders and legs, which means you get better at running too – explore the runner’s world too!

If you know the right way of doing a plank, you are already embarking on the world of fitness.

Depending on how long you hold the pose for, planks work great daily or alternate basis. Be consistent, and you shall see and feel the results in you and your body.

Now that you know the various ways to do a plank with perfect form and its benefits, what are you waiting for? Build those core muscles!

Any information found on the site does not constitute legal or medical advice. Should you face health issues, please visit your doctor to get yourself diagnosed. Icy Health offers expert opinions and advice for informational purposes only. This is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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