Don't be A Plank - Do it Properly! Guest Blog By Claire Baker
Monday, 5th March 2012
Don’t be a Plank – Do it Properly
Fitness expert and guest blogger Claire Baker explains how one simple exercise can strengthen, tone and shape your whole torso.
There’s nothing worse than feeling out of shape and unmotivated, especially with summer looming! The plank is a great exercise to engage lots of muscles at the same time, making that buff beach body more achievable!
Unlike stomach crunches, the plank engages your deeper abdominal muscles, which stabilise your body and keep your back straight – so there are health benefits too! Plus you firm your back, hips and shoulders at the same time, making it a great all-round body toning exercise.
However, do the plank wrong and it does more damage than good! Too often I see people in gyms doing the plank and they are shaking, quivering, dropping their head, lifting their bottom and pulling all sorts of faces! It isn’t difficult once you know how…
Make sure you do the plank correctly by following these easy-to-follow tips:
Start on your elbows and knees, then straighten your legs and raise your body so that you're supported by the balls of your feet, with feet hip-distance apart. Centre your body weight by letting your abs do the work- drawing the belly button towards the spine. Remember just like a press up you can be on your knees or toes. Work to your current level and strength!
Adjust Your Elbows:
Keep them directly beneath shoulders with your forearms parallel. Shrug off the urge to hunch your shoulders and instead draw them back and down away from the ears. Be careful: clasped hands will encourage shoulder rounding especially as you get tired!
Head and Neck in Line:
Neck should be held up in line with the spine, don’t let the head drop! Always think of your neck as an extension of the spine.
A flat or lengthened back is the key to flat abs. Keep yourself stable and still. A gentle squeeze of your glutes (buttocks) also helps hold you still by assisting in stabilising the hips. So if you drop or lift your hips, you let your abs off the hook! Assume the position by a mirror, and you can always have a little look side on to check.
Repeat this plank daily, and when summer arrives, you will be ready to show off that beautiful beach body!
Claire Baker is a highly qualified fitness professional with over 15 years experience in the fitness industry including roles such as gym manager, group exercise teacher, personal trainer and pilates specialist.
Claire is also a tutor and assessor for one of the fitness industry’s leading training provider YBFIT Training.