The plank exercise builds tremendous strength and can be achieved from the comfort of your own home.
Sometimes the best exercises are the simplest—especially if you’re a beginner. Planks will help you build strength and with it some serious body confidence.
And we know confidence is attractive.
Read on to learn how to incorporate this full-body exercise into your workout routine.
How to make a plank for beginners
Alignment is important, friends. Use a mirror or piece of furniture as you begin to avoid accidental stress on your joints.
If you want to use a piece of furniture, do the following steps to engage your abs. You can do planks on the floor or a mat.
- Place your hands directly under your shoulders. Spread your fingers.
- Press through your shoulders and arch your upper back (pectoralis major/minor) to protect your shoulder sockets and strengthen your chest muscles.
- Micro-bend your elbows to protect your joints from unnecessary stress.
- Lengthen your spine behind you and lift your knees off the floor (you can leave your knees down).
- Bring your feet parallel to the ceiling and engage your thighs.
- Drive your hip bones forward toward your belly button to engage your abs and glutes.
- Stack your heels on the ball-mounts of your feet to avoid stress on your foot joints.
- Look down to lengthen your neck and keep your spine aligned.
What is plank for you?
Planks build strength and stability in every inch of your core by targeting not only the rectus abdominis (six-pack ab muscles) but also the internal and external obliques, transverse abdominis, and erector spinae muscles.
Incorporating planks into your routine will only help you build rock-solid abs: “The plank isn’t just an ab exercise, it’s a full-body exercise,” says Heather Milton, MS, CSCS, a board-certified clinical exercise physiologist at NYU Langone Sports. at the Performance Center.
Planks tone your shoulders, back (including your butt) and your legs.
With stronger muscles, you can bet that your other exercise routines will improve. Running, yoga, and weight lifting (seriously the list is endless) will feel like a breeze.
How many planks should you start with?
You have the luxury of being able to plan from your home — anytime or anywhere.
When you have unlimited opportunities to exercise like this, you may start to question how much is enough to achieve the desired results?
Give yourself a reasonable goal to build up to. Doing a sixty-second plank is enough to shake you like an earthquake.
“You can plank every day of the week,” says Milton. “They’re not too stressed.”
While you can plank every day, why not try the 30-day plank challenge?
There are several variations of the 30-day plank challenge, but the general idea is to do plank exercises every day for 30 days, making sure to add time and intensity as your core gets stronger.
Plank variations for beginners
Once you’re able to hold the basic plank with impeccable form for a full minute, Milton recommends tweaking the move to increase the intensity.
There are a variety of plank options out there, and many of these options are great for beginners. You have learned to do a basic plank, now continue to progress!
1. Arm plank
From basic plank, drop down to your elbows. Align your elbows under your shoulders. You can interlace your fingers or make an eleven with your arms. Keep your hips and legs the same as a basic plank.
2. Arm plank rocks forward and backward
From the front plank position, you can feel a deep burn as you rock back and forth from the balls of your feet. Gently press your body into the one-inch range to increase the challenge.
3. High plank mountain climbers
Take your basic plank with your shoulders stacked over your wrists and draw one knee in and then the other knee toward your chest.
Do it at a slow or fast pace. When you move fast, you also raise your heart rate.
4. Side planks
Enter side planks from a base plank or foreground plank. Lower your left arm or left arm to the ground and open your body to the right side of the room.
Engage your hips to work your obliques. Once your entire body is facing right, alternate raising your right arm to the ceiling and/or lowering your bottom knee for more stability.
After three breaths, switch sides to keep things even.