Planks are one move that don’t get the credit they deserve. They’re often mindlessly thrown in at the end of a workout, used as a punishment during a sports practice, or worst of all – done incorrectly. Is there anything more cringe-worthy than seeing someone plank with their butt to the sky, or just as bad, they’re back arched so much it looks like a bowl? Planks have many health benefits, and the best part is they can be done anywhere! There’s no equipment required (score) and even just doing one for 60 seconds a day can be beneficial.
Planks do much more than strengthen your core. They can help improve your posture and balance, as well as target muscles in your biceps, shoulders and glutes! Use our guide to find the plank that’s right for you.
Standard forearm plank
Lying face down, push yourself up onto your forearms and toes. You should create a 90-degree angle from your shoulder down to your elbow, this will ensure that your elbows are directly under your shoulders. Keep your neck relaxed and looking slightly ahead. Imagine a straight line going from the back of your neck all the way down to your heels. Pull your belly button into your spine, removing any arch in your lower back. Another variation of this is a straight arm plank. Instead of your forearms being on the ground, push yourself up onto your hands with straightened arms. Your wrists should be stacked under your shoulders, and there should still be a straight line going from your head to your heels.
Start by lying on your left side. Stack your right foot on top of your left foot, and push yourself up onto your left elbow and left foot. Again, your left elbow should be directly below your shoulder. Lift your hips so that they are stacked, right on top of left. Picture a straight line from your right ear, down to your right foot. Once you feel comfortable with this position, you can pulse your hips up and down, so that your left one dips slightly, and then use your core to raise it back up to that straight line.
In a regular forearm plank position, jump your feet wider than your hips and hold, then jump them back into starting position. That’s one rep. The trick here is to keep your butt down as you jump your feet out and in. Focus on engaging your core to control this movement.
Starting in a regular forearm plank, engage your abs and lower your head as you raise your hips upwards towards the ceiling. There should be a straight line going up from the back of your head to your lower back, and then down from your bottom to your feet. Hold this position for a second or two before releasing and lowering down into starting position.
Written by GUADS staff member Emily with contributions from health.com.