Planks are undoubtedly one of the best core exercises out there. When performed correctly, they can be excellent for building core strength, which in turn is great for supporting just about any exercise or type of activity. Specifically, core strength is key for supporting the lower back. A strong core can equal a healthy lower back.
On the topic of planks, there are multiple varieties such as side, forearm, extended arms, pikes, etc. There are also many progressions that can make the basic plank more difficult, like a narrow leg stance or balancing on one arm or leg. However, before moving on to any advanced variation, it’s important to know how to perform a standard plank correctly:
1) If you’re a beginner and have healthy shoulders, you can start out with fully extended arms instead of planking on your forearms.
If you’re more advanced, you can skip the extended arm setup and plank on your forearms. Keep in mind that the forearm plank is more difficult than performing with extended arms.
2) Extending your legs directly behind you, make sure your shoulders are directly over your wrists, or over your elbows if you’re on your forearms. This will ensure that you aren’t placing any extra stress on your shoulders from being set too far back in your position.
3) Keep your hips level. They shouldn’t be sinking down to the floor or raised above to the sky. This is very important to not only get the full benefit of the exercise but to also make sure you aren’t placing unwanted stress on your lower back.
4) Last and most importantly, tuck your hips. To do so, squeeze your glutes (and keep them squeezed for the entire plank) and draw them toward your belly button. This will tuck the hips and prevent any dip from happening in your lower back. The hip tuck can be a tough one to get the feeling for and can also take time to perform correctly.
Jason DeHenzel has trained some of New York’s most prestigious clients, including high-profile lawyers, advertising executives, movie producers and musicians. Sophie DeHenzel is a Pn1-certified nutritionist and former downhill ski racer. The pair founded DeHenzel Training Systems, a 2015 Home-Based Business of the Year from the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce. DeHenzel Training Systems develops customized fitness plans for clients of different abilities, experience and commitment. Find out more at dtsnova.com.