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Fitness Move of the Week: The Plank

Maddi Ginsberg

Planks are known as one of the best abdominal exercises around. Unfortunately, they are performed incorrectly by the majority of people who try them. Rounding the shoulders, dropping the hips, or sticking the glutes out are all common errors. But fear not! These tips should help you get your form right so you can start reaping the many benefits of the plank.
 
Planks engage nearly all of your six-pack muscles at once, helping you achieve a flatter stomach. As a result of a stronger core, your lower back pain may be reduced. If you do a plank variation while placing your feet on a stability ball, you will also improve your balance. As your core strength improves, you will be able to hold the plank for a longer period of time, and with the addition of other core exercises, your stomach will gradually appear smaller and tighter.
 
Follow these steps for a perfect plank:
 
1. Start lying on the floor. Raise yourself onto your elbows. Your forearms should be out straight, with your fingers spread, and your elbows should be stacked directly below your shoulders. Be careful not to round or shrug your shoulders.
 
2. Your feet should be close together but not touching, with only your toes touching the floor. The backs of your shoes should be perpendicular to the floor.
 
3. Your spine should be straight, and your neck in line with your spine. Do not look down or too far up. Keeping your eyes on a spot just in front of your hands should do the trick. The tops of your shoes all the way to the top of your head should form a nice, straight line.
 
4.Hold for as long as you can without compromising form.
 
Once you get used to planking, try holding the position for longer periods of time. As that gets easier, you can challenge yourself by holding yourself up on your arms instead of elbows (keep your wrists stacked with your elbows), balancing on just one foot, or rotating your hips as your hold the plank to engage your obliques.
 
The plank is an amazing ab exercise, but it’s not the only way to a six-pack. In order to truly strengthen your core, you must use a variety of exercises that engage the lower, upper, and oblique abs. A strong core will help with essentially every other exercise you do, so get planking!