According to the American Council on Exercise, the plank exercise is one of the top ten abdominal exercises. This exercise is a great way to flatten your stomach, strengthen your core and improve the endurance of your back and stomach muscles. By strengthening your core, you will strengthen your hips and pelvic floor. Having a strong core, stomach and back muscles will lead to improved posture and may help prevent injuries. The only equipment that you need for the plank exercise is your own body and enough floor space to lie down on. To do the plank exercise correctly, complete the following steps:
Lie Flat on the Floor
Rest your body on your forearms with your palms flat on the floor. Double check that your shoulders are aligned directly over your elbows. Make sure that your legs are straight behind you with your ankles, knees and thighs touching.
Perform A Push Up
In a push-up motion, raise your body off the floor, supporting your weight on your forearms and your toes. You should have a straight line from your feet to your head. For comfort, you can rotate your elbows to a 45 degree angle and clasp your palms together in the center. Make sure that your back is flat and your head, neck and spine are in a straight line.
Tighten Your Abs Muscles
Keep your abdominal muscles engaged and do not let your stomach drop or allow for your hips to rise up. To avoid letting your hips or buttock rise up, tilt your pelvis towards the floor. Remember to breath. Take slow inhales and exhale steadily.
To begin, hold this position for 20 seconds. As time goes on while you are in the plank position, you may notice your stomach beginning to drop or your hips rising. To avoid this, remain aware of your position and keep your abs engaged, working to keep your body in a straight line. Repeat 3-5 times.
To make it easier: Lower your knees to the ground, so instead of balancing on your toes you are in a modified plank position with your lower body supported by your knees.
To make it harder: As you advance, aim to hold the plank 10 seconds longer each time until you reach 60 seconds.
Challenging alterations: While in the plank position, lift one leg straight up in the air. This will force your core to compensate for the shift in balance. This will further challenge and strengthen your core muscles.
Challenging alterations: Once you have mastered the plank, consider doing a side plank. Instead of supporting yourself on both forearms, you will start the plank while laying on your right side. Rise up and support your body on your right forearm. Your feet, knees and thighs will be stacked one on top of the other. In addition to strengthening your core, this move also helps work your oblique muscles. Repeat on the left side.