Planking For Fitness: How To Do The Perfect Plank

Planking For Fitness: How To Do The Perfect Plank

planking how to plank core

Planking For Fitness: How To Do The Perfect Plank

Planking… do not confuse the word with other habits. The focus is not on the hands anyway. Instead, the attention is turned to our mid-section; to a series of muscles that run throughout the entire human body. So the next questions that follow are: what does the plank do for your body, what is the regular plank good for, and how to do the perfect plank? In a nutshell, planking is perhaps the best exercise to perform to work the entire core. A Quick primer on the core:

The Core

Ranging from the Abdominal External Oblique’s to the Transverse Abdominals, your core is a complex series of muscle groups. It includes everything besides your arms and legs and is engaged when any movement is conducted. These muscles act stabilizers for movement, transfer force from one area to the next, and even help to initiate the movement itself.

The Right Way To Plank

Just like any exercise, there is a right way to plank, and then there is an inefficient way; a way in which the muscles targeted will seek the easiest path of resistance. In this way, they will not be performing optimally, and the muscles will not be strengthening through the movement pattern in which we desire. The benefits of the plank are lost as the stimulus is taken away from which we want to focus. Follow the plank exercise routine below to ensure that you are properly targeting the abs, and that you will ultimately see more definition in your torso:

Proper Position

First, lower your body to the ground and get on your knees. Consider placing a stopwatch in front of you to time how long you can hold the plank for. This will be valuable when trying to increase the time a plank can be hold (this progressively overloads the core and ensures it adapts and strengthens)

Place both your arms in front of you, bent, with your forearms directly on the floor.

Now, straighten your legs behind you as you keep your arms and forearms on the ground. Make sure your backside is not in the air, nor is drooping – the back needs to be straight and the core needs to be engaged during this hold. This is the correct position as previously alluded to. This is the regular plank.

Stay as straight as a ‘plank’. This is the reason in why it is called a plank, because the body is going to be held ‘as straight as a plank’ throughout the whole exercise.

How Long To Hold a Plank?

You should aim to hold this position for as long as possible. For beginners 30 seconds to 1 minute is a good target. After about a minute, or longer depending on your core strength and experience with the movement, your abs will start to burn and your body will want to stop. At this juncture you have two options:

1) Grin and bear it, with the correct form, or
2) Stop the movement and the timer and record your time. This time should attempt to be beaten the next time the exercise is completed by 5-10 seconds.

A well held plank can be seen below:

planking how to plank

Alternatively, the tutorial by Mind Pump Media expertly outlines proper form.

When to do a Regular Plank

These can be completed anytime. At home, at the start or end of your workout. This simply does not matter as long as you stick to the correct form and you complete them routinely and often. Frequency will be the factor that ensures you progress and that your core strengthens. A nice plank routine would be to do three sets a day. One in the morning as you awake, one at lunch and one bed.

Just doing the math here that would be 21 sets of this incredible exercise a week. Increasing in time, it is clear to see that in no time your body will become stronger, and look better for it!

There are also many variations, and workouts dedicated entirely to the movement. At Shirt and Tie Fitness, we recommend: