In terms of execution technique, the plank is one of the most difficult exercises. Yes, many of us include the bar in our workouts. It is respected by runners, strength training enthusiasts and those who just want to lose weight before the beach season, but many do not realize that they are doing the bar completely wrong.
“Planks are the gold standard for core strengthening and stabilization,” explains Shayna Verstigan, athletic director at Supreme Health and Fitness in Wisconsin. “When done correctly, they are truly effective. Planks make you more athletic, prevent / reduce lower back pain, and make it easier to move around in everyday life. ”
It’s time to figure out how to take full advantage of this fundamental exercise.
1. Contract your gluteal muscles as hard as you can
Nearly all exercises benefit from a little glute inclusion, and planks are no exception. “Squeezing the gluteal muscles stretches the hip flexors slightly, which puts more stress on the abdominal muscles,” explains Greg Pignataro, Certified Strength and Functional Trainer at Grindset Fitness. You want to work exactly the abdominal muscles, don’t you? Moreover, contraction of the gluteus maximus reduces stress on the lumbar spine and prevents lower back flexion, adds Pignataro.
2. Don’t take long sets
That’s right. “Dr. Stuart McGill, a University of Waterloo professor who has devoted 30-plus years to the study of spine and spinal pain, has published groundbreaking research on crustal tightness,” says Verstigen. “The 10-second maximum tension plank followed by a short rest before the next set develops a much stronger core with less risk of injury.”
Pavel Tsatsulin, better known as the popularizer of kettlebell lifting, agrees with this. He developed the RKC plank, based on a philosophy of whole body rigidity, and suggested shorter and stronger sets. Try holding the bar for 3-10 seconds at maximum contraction for the most effective core strength development.
3. Find your “ideal” body position
Each body has its own characteristics, and therefore the optimal position for the plank should also be personalized. “Due to the unique proportions of the body and the length of the limbs, the ideal position in the plank will be individual for each person,” emphasizes Pignataro. – And this is important, because the bar should work out the core muscles, and not hit the elbow or shoulder joints. Experiment with extending your elbows and feet a few centimeters in, out, back and forth until you find your ideal stance. ”
4. Raise your chin “over the fence”
Not everyone can feel the abdominal muscles during the plank. If you are familiar with this, use this technique: “Having taken the starting position, imagine that you want to look over the fence. Pull your elbows down a bit to raise your head and neck above this imaginary fence, advises Brian Nghien, owner of the Elementally Strong Club. “This will align your hips and shoulders, and you will feel the plank where you want – in the abdominal muscles.”
5. Squeeze your armpits
For the plank to count, every muscle that stabilizes the spine has to work at full strength, ”says Keri Woodall, owner of BLAZE Sports Club.
In general, this is true for many exercises. “If I want to do the deadlift, I have to group myself using all the strength of my core muscles. Only then can something heavy be lifted from the ground. If my body does not understand what the maximum contraction should look like, then I limit the working weights in the dead and risk getting injured by lifting weights without proper preparation, ”she explains.
Don’t you feel a burning sensation in your muscles? “Squeeze your armpits like you’ve got a million dollar check under each one, and you really don’t want it to be snatched and taken away,” adds Woodall.