A quick and easy-to-follow how-to guide.
At its core, one of the best benefits of planking is that it strengthens your core. Aside from those, it can also improve your balance and help increase muscle definition.
Planking may look easy to do but before you really get into it, you should first get the foundation of your planking down. But don’t worry! We’re here to help. Here’s a list of the variations of planks you can do as well as steps on how to do them.
Full Basic Plank
Let’s start with the basics. Just follow these five steps and you’re on your way to perfecting the foundation of a plank.
- Plant your hands directly under your shoulders. You should look like you’re going to do a push-up.
- Clench your glutes. Tip: Pretend you’re holding a pencil in between your butt cheeks.
- Make sure your head is in line with your back. From head to toe, your form should be as straight as a ruler.
- Remember not to lock or hyperextend your knees.
Now that you’ve followed these steps, try holding the plank without compromising your form or breath and you won’t notice that a minute has already passed.
Half Basic Plank/Elbow Plank
The elbow plank is a more challenging variation that engages your core muscles. To do it, you must place your elbows flat on the mat and either lay your palms flat on the floor or clasp them.
If you think that this is too challenging, you can do the variation – the knee plank – which only asks you to maintain your elbow plank form but rest your knees on the ground instead of the feet.
Single Leg Plank
If you think that having an unstable life ain’t enough, then take on this plank variation. To do it, simply maintain your elbow plank form and alternately lift your left and right leg.
If you think that the instability isn’t a challenge isn’t enough, then you can also alternately lift your left and right arm.
Another balancing act but this time has other benefits is the side plank. A few of the benefits are: it engages the muscles of the core and strengthens arms as well as legs.
To accomplish the side plank, just follow these steps:
- Lie on one side with your legs stacked on top of one another.
- Prop your body on your hand or elbow.
- For a challenge, modify the plank by raising either your arm or leg.
If it’s too difficult for you, a tip to make it easier is by crossing the upper leg in front of the body for more support.
Medicine Ball Plank or Swiss Ball Plank
Turn the challenge up a notch and demand from your core by utilizing balls. Instead of placing your elbows or hands (if you’re using a medicine ball), place them on the ball.
For targeting other muscles – muscles in your lower back, your hamstrings, your glutes, and if done right, your abs too. Try it out by following these steps:
- Sit with your legs out and in front of you.
- Place your hands – with palms flat on the floor – behind you, far from your hips.
- Push and lift your body until form a straight line from your head to your toes.
If you start to sag, you can make the move easier by supporting yourself on your forearms rather than with your hands and straight arms.
Here’s the deal, if you make mistakes, your workout may suffer. So, here’s another list of common planking mistakes so that you can avoid all of them.
Mistake # 1: Collapsing the lower back. You can remedy this by making sure that your belly doesn’t touch the floor.
Mistake # 2: Lifting your butt to the sky. This isn’t a downward dog yoga pose so make sure your butt is aligned to your head and back.
Mistake # 3: Lowering your head. In the words from Les Miserable, “Look down. Look down.” Keep your eyes on the ground but your head aligned to the rest of your body.
Mistake # 4: Forgetting to breathe. Avoid feeling dizzy, nauseated, and prevent tension in the neck by breathing.
Mistake # 5: Focusing on the clock rather than the workout. Planking for minutes doesn’t matter if your form slowly deteriorates through time.
Now that you’ve got it down, push yourself to the maximum and see if you can participate in the plank challenge or beat your friends on who can hold their planks the longest.
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