The plank is one of the most popular exercises for working the core muscles, especially as it can be adjusted (or held for less time) for varying fitness levels. Here’s 5 things to watch out for in order to make sure you are planking correctly and maximising its effectiveness.
1. Holding your breath
If you do not breathe during the exercise it can cause your body to recruit other muscles such as your back or neck muscles as well as reduce the amount of time you’ll hold the plank. Learn to keep breathing through the exercise while keeping your abs tight.
2. Looking up / down during your plank
Looking up with a hyperextended neck or looking down, can cause changes in how your body is stabilising. Look towards the floor, holding your neck in a nice and strong neutral position. Everything in alignment will mean better balance and stabilising.
3. Dropping your lower back / hips
If your lower back drops down or sags when you hold your plank position then it’s due to a lack of strength or you’re not engaging the core muscle correctly. Try slightly tucking the pelvis up towards your rib cage and also squeezing your glutes. This allows you to really maximise the recruitment of your abs.
4. Raising your butt up
People tend to do this when they aren’t strong enough as it makes the exercise easier. Make sure your body is more parallel to the ground, with your shoulders slightly higher than your pelvis. Hold this position! Use a mirror if possible until you feel the correct tension.
5. Bending your knees
When you bend your knees, you lose control of your whole body, especially the lower back which will lead to sagging. Think about lengthening through your heel with legs straight. This will give you an optimal holding position.
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