The Plank, to some it’s a bodyweight exercise, others a measurement of mental stamina or even a useful way to measure time.
Here at ALTA we use the plank a an isometric exercise. The plank is useful when done properly by engaging multiple muscles at the same time, thus strengthening your core whilst also working the shoulders, arms, back and thighs.
The specifics: The plank involves holding your body in a prone position in a relatively straight line off the ground. Even though we are all made up a bit differently there are some basic guidelines. Elbows and arms in a straight line, Shoulders over the elbows. Leg are long and in a line with the shoulders. As if you are doing a push-up but on the elbows. Posture is super important. What is good posture? A good way to test this is stand against a wall. Heels touching the wall, tailbone touching the wall, natural curve to the lower back, shoulders touching the wall, and lastly the back of your head touching the wall. If you have some tightness through your upper thoracic and hips, this will not be as easy as it seems. We often use a dowel to represent the wall, and ears should be in line with shoulders, shoulders in line with hips, hips in line with ankles.
Some cautions: if you are experiencing pain in the lower back, a few things may be happening. Tight quads, pelvis maybe tilted anteriorly, deep core muscles are fatigued and or the lower back is beginning to sag. To remedy this, maintain good posture but drop to the knees. Another remedy is to elevate your arms to chair height. Another little trick is to stretch front of your legs (quads) and chest (pec) prior to doing the plank this will in turn help to active your posture muscles.
Regularly adding planks to your fitness will go a long way to not only to build conditioning into your core, shoulders and back but also improve your mental stamina
To get you started and enhance your plank, see the exercises list below.
1: Kneeling push-ups. Whether you are a seasoned push-upper or a beginner, kneeling push-ups with help create not only strength and stamina in the chest arms and shoulders but also start to teach core stability.
2: Side plank. There are many versions of the side plank, but the basic version does well on many fronts. See photo (b)
3: Superhero. This exercise will help strength your posture muscles, lower back, shoulders, and hips.
As always, any questions please contact any one of our ALTA Fitness Team members, we are here and more than happy to help.