Planks are effective for all athletes, regardless of age, gender, or level of athletic ability. The plank’s power to improve core strength and balance and develop better upper and mid-body static strength makes it an essential part of any serious fitness regimen.

 

When performing the plank, it is crucial that you maintain proper form and technique. Improper form can not only lessen the effectiveness of the exercise, but may also cause injury. Here is what you should focus on:

 

  • Relax your neck.
  • Tighten your buttocks and abs.
  • Keep your back straight.
  • Keep your chin off your chest.
  • Do this in front of a mirror with a side or sagittal profile to be sure that your back is straight.
  • Have a goal of holding this position for 30-90 seconds. Set a long-term goal to hold the plank for 2-5 minutes.

 

Here are several things to avoid while performing the plank:

 

  • Rocking or leaning to one side while holding the plank.
  • Holding your breath while tightening other muscle groups.
  • Allowing your back to slope or sway downward.

 

Plank Variations for Every Athlete

You’re not limited to just the straight arm and classic plank. Get creative. The video demonstrates multiple types of plank exercises, which can be done at home or in the gym. Do your best to maintain proper form when doing the plank. Start off by maintaining the position for 10-30 seconds. If you become shaky or unstable during the plank, go down to your knees and rest, then regroup and start again while maintaining proper and stable form.

 

 

  • The Straight Arm Plank: This exercise starts out in the basic push-up stance with elbows straight and extended. You can cross one leg over the other if you prefer. Keep your back straight as you remain elevated. Relax your neck and hold for 10 seconds minimum. Strive to hold for 1-2 minutes.
  • Standard Classic Plank: The classic plank is done with the elbows flexed to 90 degrees with the back straight. Tighten the core and buttocks muscles. Hold the position for 10-30 seconds with a goal of 1-2 minutes.
  • Rolling Plank: Begin in the classic plank position. Then lift the elbows in an alternating pattern over the other elbow. Roll the elbows forward first, then reverse.  Continue to keep your back straight and neck relaxed during this exercise.  Do 3 sets of 10 forward and then 3 sets of 10 in reverse.
  • Walking Plank: In this exercise you will alternate between a standard plank position with elbows at 90 degrees, to fully extending your arms. Alternate how you flex and bend each elbow as you move to the classic plank position. Do 3 sets of 10 repetitions.
  • Flexed Plank: Start in the straight arm plank position. Flex both elbows and allow them to touch the floor, then lift up. Do 3 sets of 10 repetitions.
  • Wide Plank: Begin in the straight arm plank position, but bring your arms more than shoulder width apart and keep your legs wide. You can add variation by holding up one arm in an alternating position. Hold each position for 10-30 seconds.

 

Redefining a Classic

The plank is a classic exercise that remains effective and safe when performed properly. Use these plank variations to surprise and sculpt your body.

 

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Teaser photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

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