The plank is an extremely effective isometric exercise that primarily targets the muscles in your back (erector spinae) and abdominals (rectus abdominis, transversus abdominus). When performed properly, a plank will also target secondary muscles in your shoulders and chest as well as your quads and glutes.
The plank is one of the best exercises for building overall strength and endurance in the core.
Follow these six steps to ensure you’re using proper form while performing a plank. Good form is essential to your workout routine not only because it makes the exercise more effective, but because it will help you avoid injury, too.
-How to Do a Plank-
1. Begin on all fours (hands and knees) with your hands on the floor directly underneath your shoulders about shoulder-width distance apart.
2. Lift up off of your knees by completely extending your legs behind you. Tuck your toes under so that your entire body is lifted up off the ground, supported by your arms and legs. This his high plank position and one variation of the plank exercise.
3. To do a forearm plank (slightly more challenging), simply lower down onto your forearms, slowly and with one arm at a time. Be sure to keep your shoulders above your elbows. You can angle your forearms inward or keep them straight.
4. Anytime you are in a plank position (forearm or high) be sure to focus on keeping your core engaged. Do not let your hips drop or push your rear up into the air. You want to keep your spine in alignment and aim to keep a mostly straight line from your head to your toes. Let your gaze fall just in front of your in order to make sure that your neck stays in alignment with your spine; do not tuck your chin towards your chest or lift your neck up.
Add this exercise to your regular workout routine to improve the strength and endurance of your core muscles. Test yourself to see how long you can hold your plank for. If you can last 30 seconds the first time, aim for 35 seconds or better during your next workout and continue progressing from there.
Once you’ve mastered the basic plank, try adding a new level of difficulty by performing plank variations like side planks or plank walk-ups (both pictured below).