Planks are a great way to train shoulders, hips, abdominals, and back. We will learn proper technique for the front plank first and then move on to side planks.
The correct starting position for a front plank is to align your elbows under your armpits on the floor. Reach your legs long out of your hip joint so that they’re spread long behind you. Press up on your elbows and toes making a straight firm line with your body. Pull belly button back towards spine and press heels away from your body to engage deep abdominal muscles. The key to good form is maintaining a flat back and straight line from your head and shoulders to your feet. Torso should be straight and rigid with no bend or sagging in the middle. Avoid looking up or sideways to maintain good alignment with your neck and spine. Build up your endurance by holding this position for 1 minute straight. When this gets easy, try lifting an arm or leg to increase the level of difficulty.
Side planks work all the same muscles in addition to your internal and external obliques. Getting into proper starting position requires you to lie on your side and place your elbow underneath your shoulder. Reach your legs long out of your hip joint and stack your feet so that one is placed on top of the other. Press up on your elbow so that only the side edge of your bottom foot and your elbow are on the ground. The same rules apply for form as with the front planks. Keep your body in a straight line from head to toe – no bending or sagging in the middle. I find pulling my toes up towards my shins helps to maintain proper body alignment. Try to develop the stamina to maintain this position for 1 minute straight. When that gets easy, lift your top leg to make the movement more challenging.
This week’s exercise—planks and side planks—is the third in a series to help you get into, and stay in, great shape. Gimmicks don’t work and exercise fads come and go. The secret is to master the basics and integrate them into a well rounded fitness program. Follow Melissa Conte, our Fit Woman NYC, as she outlines proper form and function for six exercise essentials, moves that lay the groundwork for a strong fitness foundation which you can build upon. Read the story and follow the video. Please feel free to email any and all questions you may have to: firstname.lastname@example.org
It is advised that you check with your physician prior to beginning any exercise program.
Photos and videos by Roberta Ruocco.