Like reading, planking is fundamental.
“This is the best exercise for core strength and stability,” says Rachel Butler-Green, CSCS, a certified strength and conditioning specialist in Los Angeles. “We all need a strong core for everyday activities like walking. Planking targets all the major muscles in your core, including your deep abdominals and your back.”
It will also help your posture and endurance.
As with any exercise, goal setting is key — so here’s how to make it work if you want to conquer that elusive five-minute plank.
How to do the Five Minute Plank
As with any exercise, learning proper form is important.
Once you’ve mastered the basic pose, you can start increasing your timing and mixing things up with lots of variations (more on that in a second).
1. Start with an arm plank
“A forearm, or low plank, is the first progression of the exercise and is a great place to start planking,” says Andrew Bustos, ACE, NASM, a certified personal trainer in Abilene, Texas.
Start in a pushup position, but place your forearms on the floor, elbows under shoulders, palms down.
2. Keep your body straight
Make sure your body is in a straight line from head to toe. “Make sure your legs are tight and engaged,” says Bustos. “You don’t want to hang your hips or drive your hips to the ceiling.”
3. Engage your core
Make sure you pull in your abs throughout the hold. Glutes, too. That’s why planking is hard—and why it’s such a great exercise.
4. Do not arch your back
“The most common form problems I see are the hips too low and the lower back arching,” says Butler-Green. “This compresses the spine and guarantees you’ll end your plank with an injury.”
Also, your lower back may involuntarily arch when your abs are tired – if this happens, it’s time to stop. Set over.
5. Gradually increase your time
If you’re new to planking, don’t try five minutes right away. “Holding for five minutes will seem like an eternity, but start with 20 seconds, then add 10 seconds each day until you get to five minutes,” says Bustos.
6. Or work your way up to five increasing minutes
If gradually increasing the length of your plank hold doesn’t work for you, Butler-Green suggests an alternative approach.
“The best way is to break the hold into smaller intervals in each workout,” she says.
“Based on your current fitness level, you can start with five sets of one minute or even six to seven sets of 45 seconds,” she says.
Then he suggests that you gradually increase your interval time until you can do a five-minute plank.
Depending on your current strength, you can also work on reducing the recovery time between sets.
An example: If you start with five one-minute sets, you hold your breath for one minute between each, then, once you’ve nailed it, reduce the recovery time between sets to forty-five seconds, then thirty .
7. Proceed to straight arm plank
Once you’ve mastered the five-minute front plank, Bustos says you’re ready for the next variation: the full plank, keeping your arms straight.
Start in a pushup position with your elbows and hands under your shoulders and follow the same steps as above.
As before, depending on your ability to hold the position over time, you can gradually increase one set per day until you can hold it for five minutes, or you can do shorter sets that add up to a total of five minutes, then your intervals. can increase times
8. Don’t let yourself get bored
Bustos recommends that newbies looking to mix things up can start with a plank on their knees, or elevate their arms on a park bench, chair or ottoman, or a step box at the gym.
Intermediate and advanced plankers can place their feet on suspension trainers like the TRX or extend the arms or legs further from the body.
“You can always do leg raises while holding a plank,” he says.
“For clients who are ready for a more advanced hold, I’ll add plank variations to take their mind off the static hold,” says Butler-Green.
9. Focus on those incremental goals
If you’re just starting out and the five-minute plank seems impossible, just focus on improving every day.
“The buildup is key,” says Bustos. “It’s like anything else — you have to practice.”