How To Perform the Plank
Ab work tends to get neglected by many trainees, mainly because it tends to placed at the end of a workout in most programs, and when we find ourselves short on time at the end of the workout…well in reality, it sometimes gets skipped.
It’s a mistake I think, because a strong set of abs will help you with virtually all the major lifts, like the squat, deadlift, and overhead press. Not to mention, we use our abdominals in most of our waking hours, as they work to maintain the body in an upright position.
Fortunately, the plank is a simple exercise that can be done almost anywhere. So if you’ve been skipping your ab work, taking a few minutes to do this exercise will help make up for it. Watch the video above to see how I do it, and then read the remainder of this article directly below for precise instructions.
The plank is an exercise that works the abdominals (abs). You can see the abs (often referred to as the “six pack”) on very lean individuals with low body fat. It’s an excellent exercise for trunk stability, a strong midsection, and it even works your back, legs, and arms (especially the shoulders!).
None! The plank is a basic exercise that can be performed anywhere and without any equipment.
All individuals can perform this exercise—beginner through advanced, all levels.
Description of action:
- Lie face down on the floor and prop your torso up on your forearms, with your elbows under your shoulders.
- Supporting yourself on your forearms and toes, raise yourself upward.
- Keeping your body (butt, spine, neck and head) in a straight line, hold the “plank” position for 20–60 seconds, or as long as you can.
I like to perform this exercise for setsAdd a Tooltip Text of 3, resting one minute between sets.
- When holding the position, don’t allow the hips or belly button to “sink” to the floor. Along the same lines, the butt should not be pushed up towards the ceiling, with a nose down position.
The main stress of the exercise should be felt in the abdominalsAdd a Tooltip Text
- , and not the shoulders. If you feel it more in your shoulders, you may need to drop to your knees, and focus on bracing the belly during the holding of the plank position.
Variations On the Plank:
- Advanced trainees can perform the exercise while raising one foot or even one arm, off the ground.
- You can also prop your feet up on a step, on a physioball, Bosu ball, or in Blast or TRX straps. Doing so creates further instability, and places more of the load on the triceps, chest and shoulders.
- There are a number of variations involving holding the plank with the forearms elevated on a physioball or Bosu ball. Again, the variation in position creates an additional degree of instability, and will challenge the supporting muscles in various ways.
- You can also slowly rock forward and back on your toes for this exercise. Trust me, you won’t lull yourself to sleep with this rocking motion!
The stronger our abs are, the better our lifts, our posture, and our appearance. So moral of the story is: don’t neglect ab work. With an exercise as simple and effective as the plank, it’s worth a shot in the gym or at home.