When it comes to strengthening the muscles of the core, planks are one of the best. This exercise, as simple as it may look, can engage the deepest layers of the abdominal muscles.
It also targets the obliques and transverse abdominus muscles in a way that no conventional ab exercises can. Not only does plank target the abdominals, it also firms up the shoulders, back, and hips.
Unfortunately, as easy as it may seem, there are still a lot of Aussies who do the plank wrong. Here are 4 of the best ways you can improve and make perfect your plank.
1. Observe the Correct Way to Plank
If you know how to perform push-up, then you already know what the proper form of a plank is. The only difference is that you will sustain your body and its alignment in the “up” position for an extended period of time.
Hence, you do not have to worry about working your triceps and chest muscles since you will not be lowering yourself anymore. What this also means is that your abdominal muscles will have to do the work to keep your body in that position for a long time.
If you are going for a low plank, the trick is to place your elbows in line with your shoulders. Your upper arm should form a 90-degree angle with the forearm at the level of the elbow. It is still similar to the push-up position, but with your arms flexed at the elbows.
2. Maintain the Correct Position of the Arms
Your arms serve as the tripod for your body. They are supporting your weight, which is made heavier by the contraction of your abdominal muscles. Hence, it is important that the elbows will form a perpendicular line to the surface of the floor relative to the shoulders.
Moreover, the arms should always be in line with the wrists. As much as possible, fight off the temptation to hunch the shoulders to the ears. This can make holding the plank position very difficult and uncomfortable.
3. Observe the Proper Alignment of the Spine
Your spinal column starts at the base of your head and runs all the way to your tailbone. One of the most important steps to perfecting the plank is by keeping the perfect alignment of the spine.
Unfortunately, most individuals will look either forward or towards their feet. This puts the head at a different angle relative to the spine. To address this, make sure to look about 5 to 8 centimetres to the front of your hands. This will help align your head relative to the spine.
4. Flatten Your Back
Any plank variation will always emphasise the importance of a flat back. This is easier said than accomplished, however. What you can do is to perform the plank with a large mirror on the wall beside you. This will give you an instant form check.
Mastering the art of plank is all about maintaining the perfect alignment of the spine. If you can force yourself to use only the abdominals during this exercise, then you’ll gain many of the benefits of plank.