There are few exercises which are as effective at targeting the whole body as the plank. Planking involves not only serious core strengthening, but also engages multiple muscle groups simultaneously, working your entire midsection, arms, upper back, glutes and hamstrings. And it’s deceptively simple in appearance and technique because in reality it requires phenomenal overall strength and endurance, especially when you add in all the endless “fun” variations we throw at you during barre.
Planks (and pushups which are essentially just a “moving plank”) can take some time and practice to master, but are well worth the effort. Here are Miranda’s top tips and tricks to help you get started in the right direction:
- Work on getting your shoulders stacked right over the elbows and pressing into your forearms up and away from the floor. Your goal is to engage your chest and lats equally to bring your upper back into a neutral position as opposed to rounding it or allowing it to sag.
- Try to make a straight line from the top of your head all the way down to your heels; keeping your legs engaged and straight. You want to tuck your hips under slightly and pull your abs in, navel to spine, making sure that your seat doesn’t stick up in the air, but also you’re not sagging in the middle or arching your low back.
- Avoid allowing your elbows to get too wide or pushing back through your feet. You want to try to shift your weight forward to more evenly distribute your weight.
- Make your tightening up your entire abdominal wall your number one priority.
Full Arm Planks:
- Your hands should be placed directly under your shoulders and you should stretch your shoulders/upper back apart with your gaze a few inches out in front of those fingertips. Try to press through the whole of your hands with your nose pointing towards the floor and the back of your neck parallel to the ceiling.
- Keep a soft bend in your elbows, tuck your hips slightly and shift your weight forward. If you press back, you risk sagging and pain in your low back.
- Engage your legs, lengthen all the way out with a slight squeeze of your glutes and quadriceps and keep that seat low.
- Envision a ball rolling from the nape of your neck down to your feet – your body should be a nice flat line so the ball could roll without any stopping or getting caught in any hills/valleys along the way.
- Take your bottom wrist ever so slightly in front of your shoulder and your top arm to reach towards the ceiling in a straight line. Your head should be in line with your spine.
- You want to stack your hips one on top of the other and lift/push them up to ceiling whilst pulling your abs in tightly.
- Avoid sinking down through the waist by using the bottom oblique to press your hips up. Keeping your hips high is more important than having your feet stacked. Until you are able to work through that side waist you should work come to the bottom knee or stagger your feet one in front of the other so you can maximize the work in the abs.
- Work on keeping your neck in line with your spine and think about gazing slightly forward to prevent your head from dropping down. This will help you maximize the work in the corners of your chest. Dropping your head can put extra pressure on your neck and shoulders and take work out of the chest.
- Keep your core tight, seat down, and a long line in your body (hold that plank alignment!). Take your hips and thighs down to the floor with you as you bend those elbows – your body should maintain the same shape the whole time.
- On the lower down, pull the shoulder blades together and down towards the waistband of your pants. On the press back up, engage your chest and propel through your elbows. As opposed to pushing your hands away, imagine driving the elbows down.
Now that you’ve brushed up on our top tips, why not try out our online planks and push ups workout?