Ask a Trainer in the United States: How Do I Do a Proper Plank?

Many athletes use the front plank exercise to build core strength and stability, but often do so incorrectly. Accurate body awareness is required to execute well in what appears to be a simple position. The front plank stance has seen it all, from sagging spines to incredibly high hips. There’s a sweet spot when you can truly feel your abs contracting (which is the purpose!), just as with most exercises. Our front plank training is finally over, so let’s get to work.

What’s the point of Plank?

The anterior abdominal muscles are targeted with the front plank (core muscles in between your ribs cage and pelvic floor on the front of your body). To improve lumbar stability, these muscles cooperate together to produce an isometric (static) muscle contraction in concert with one another.. These muscles operate in tandem with the obliques, paraspinal (back-of-the-body) muscles, and other muscles between the rib cage and the pelvic floor to stabilise the torso. Despite the fact that the anterior abdominal muscles also perform sit-ups and crunches, these workouts have little relevance on running.

Maintaining neutral/ideal lumbo-pelvic (low back and hip) posture when running is made easier by strengthening the anterior core muscles. Predominantly in athletes with weak anterior core muscles, the pelvis tilts to the front and the back of the spine curves inward, leading to tight hip flexors. Glute muscles are often weak in this position, whereas the lower back muscles are often too tight. Lower-crossed syndrome is a combination of muscular weakness and tightness that frequently causes issues in a runner’s stride.

Become aware of your spine and pelvis’ position.

Flexing your spine and keeping your pelvis tucked in are the initial steps to learning to do a front plank. The best way to grasp this is on your hands and knees.

Cat and Cow Experiment

Make sure you’re on all fours when doing the cat-cow. Your hands and knees should be in line with your hips and shoulders, respectively. Tuck your pelvis in and bring your chin to your chest. Round your back toward the ceiling. a cat in a posing position (think of a cat stretch). Notice how your spine is flexed and your tailbone is tucked in to get into this position:

As a final step, assume the cow posture by raising your head and looking up at the ceiling, while also extending your back and rotating your pelvis the other way. Your back is straight and your tailbone is pointed forward in this position. Perform the cat-to-cow transition at least 10 times until you have a firm grasp on how to manage your spine’s curvature and the placement of your pelvis.

The cat position has just two key cues:

  • Bum-in
  • Ribs-up

The cow position has just two key cues:

  • Bum out
  • Ribs down

On the Elevated Plank, the Cat-Cow

If you can’t execute the ideal front plank on the floor, resting on your elbows and toes while in a raised plank, then you should learn how to do the cat-cow.

Face a 24-inch-high box or a 24-inch-high workout bench. Place your elbows and forearms on the box, then lower yourself to the ground. More and more, this figure is resembling that of a board now. Keep your elbows close to your sides and your shoulders up and back. The next step is to create a slight double chin by looking down between your forearms.

Stay in this position with your head and neck while doing the cat pose. Next, bend your knees and lower your torso into a cow pose with your ribs down and your bum out. Make a mental note of how you feel after doing this for 15 repetitions. Having the ribs in a vertical position and the butt pulled in requires the use of the abs to sustain it. Squeeze your glutes as well; they have the ability to contract. Glute contraction is unnecessary once the ribs are down and the butt is exposed, so the abs can relax and the glutes can go off. The low back region may also be strained (this is not what you want to feel when doing a plank).

The first step to perfecting the front plank is to find the ideal pelvic position. Hold a 10-second elevated plank with your ribs raised and your butt in. Keep moving for two seconds after the 10-second hold, but stop before you feel any strain in your back. You will learn how to better manage your spine and pelvic posture in the plank position by doing this exercise.

Elevated Use of a Good Plank

Do your next hold in the ribs-up, butt-in posture. From the crown of your head to the soles of your feet, your body should form a straight line. A rounded upper back is fine and your pelvis should be tucked under your rib cage. It’s important to press your glutes so that your front core muscles and oblique muscles both tighten and flex together as a result of this.

Work for one minute by performing six repetitions. Every other day, perform 5 sets of 10 reps each with a 40-second kneeling rest in between. Planks do not need to be held for any longer. Maintain an aggressive core contraction for 10 seconds and rest for only two seconds between holds. This set/rep scheme is better than holding planks for long periods of time.

The elevated plank can be made more challenging by lowering the elevation after you become proficient. The idea is to gradually lower yourself to the ground, one step at a time. The side and reverse planks can be attempted once you have mastered the front plank for 5 sets of 6 x 10-second holds with 40-second pauses. All the best.

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