This static exercise—meaning the body stays in one position for the entirety of the move—requires no equipment and can be performed just about anywhere (well, use your judgment). Find out how to perfect your plank and fix some of the most common planking mistakes with this guide.
2. Ground the toes into the floor and squeeze the glutes to stabilize the body. Your legs should be working in the move too; careful not to lock or hyperextend your knees.
3. Neutralize the neck and spine by looking at a spot on the floor about a foot beyond the hands. Your head should be in line with your back.
4. Hold the position for 20 seconds. As you get more comfortable with the move, hold your plank for as long as possible without compromising form or breath.
How to Fix the 5 Most Common Planking Mistakes
The Mistake: Collapsing the lower back.
The Fix: Instead of compromising the lower back by dipping the bum, engage the core by imagining your belly button pulling in toward the spine. This will help keep the torso flat, and in turn, the spine safe. If you want to get super technical, have a friend gently place a broomstick or yardstick on your back—the top of the stick should make contact with the head, and the bottom of the stick should rest between the buttocks. The stick should also make contact right between the shoulder blades for proper alignment.
The Mistake: Reaching the butt to the sky.
The Fix: Planks aren’t supposed to look like a downward dog. To really get the core working the way it should in the plank position, keep your back flat enough so your abs feel engaged from top (right below the sternum) to bottom (directly below the belt). Just don’t dip the tush too far toward the ground.
The Mistake: Letting the Head Drop
The Fix: While the focus may be on keeping the hips, butt, and back in the proper position, form isn’t only about the core and the lower body in this move. It’s important to think of the head and neck as an extension of your back. Keep your eyes on the floor, letting them rest about a foot in front of the hands, which will help keep the neck in a neutral position.
The Mistake: Forgetting to breathe.
The Fix: It’s human nature to hold your breath when in a strenuous position for a period of time. But denying yourself oxygen can bring on dizziness or nausea, which are unpleasant at best and dangerous at worst.
The Mistake: Focusing too much on the stopwatch.
The Fix: Quality trumps the quanity of seconds ticking away when it comes to the plank. When your form begins to suffer, it’s time to call it quits. If the back begins to bow or the shoulders start to sink in, take a break.
Contact an AVAC® Personal Trainer if you would like some great tips on planking and other ways to developer a stronger, leaner body!