Exercise 101: The Plank

Exercise 101: The Plank

There are few who embrace the idea of holding a plank pose for a minute. Aimed at tightening your core and requiring both strength and gritty determination, it’s a move that is often done incorrectly.

The plank is a great friend if you’re trying to develop strength in the core, shoulders, arms and glutes. It is a great move to practice if you are a runner, weight lifter or play intense sports. The strong core means that you can get better results in these areas.

To do the plank properly you need to get yourself into a pushup position. Bend your elbows to 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms. Your elbows need to be beneath your shoulders so that your body forms a straight line from your head to your feet. Hold this position for two minutes if you can!

The more you hold this position then the more resilient your lower back is to injury and your abs will look great once you burn off the fat.

  • Do the plank several times every day and try and increase the length of time you hold it for.
  • Add pushups and pull-ups to your workout to improve your plank.
  • Squats and deadlifts are also a great way to help improve your plank.

If you find it too tricky to start with, then you can build up by doing a bent-knee plank. Move on to a tougher plank if you can hold it for two minutes easily.

Some alternative ways of doing the plank:

  • One leg lifted. Raising one leg in the air, will dramatically increase the demand on your core to fight your body's natural urge to rotate.
  • One arm lifted. Naturally your body will try and twist, but don’t let it.
  • Swiss ball plank. With your forearms resting on the ball you’ll need to stabilise your body and stop the ball from rolling out from under you.

Feel inspired? Want to work your core? Buy your next gym pass here.

The Author

Laura Briggs

Laura loves running, Pilates and Yoga, and is forever trying to find the time to fit these activities into her life around a busy family. When she's got time to herself you might find her knitting, or in the kitchen trying out an elaborate recipe - healthy of course!.


Sarah L.
12 January 2016

Sarah L.

wow, this is indeed tricky. I will keep practising, thanks for the tips.

Mike D.
29 November 2015

Mike D.

I find it tough enough to do the standard plank, let alone variations. I can hold for over 2 minutes though. Is that good?

Trevor D.
27 November 2015

Trevor D.

it amazes me how easy it looks and how difficult it is to do. But the great thing is that it can be done any time you have a spare few minutes.

Tanya M.
25 November 2015

Tanya M.

Love a good plank! I've yet to master any variations but I'm determined to get there one day.

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