The Secret to Proper Planking

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The exercise, not the outdated meme.

Despite being a relatively simple and straight form, the plank is one of the most deceptively tricky workouts out there. You wouldn’t think it’d be so hard to just prop yourself up on your feet and elbows, but when done properly, a plank is a full-body workout, and trust me, you’ll feel it. Of course, since the plank looks so simple, it’s very easy to mess up your form, and bad form leads to all of the pain with none of the gain.

The first rule of proper planking is to mind your elbows. Your elbows are the bedrock of a good plank, but if you’re putting too much pressure on them, you’re gonna lose your balance twice as fast. The solution here is to ensure you’re doing planks on a soft, pliable surface like a yoga mat; something that’ll support your elbows softly without digging them into the hard floor.

Secondly, focus on your breathing. This is a good rule of thumb for just about any exercise, but it’s especially important with planking. Make sure to breathe deeply through your nose, hold it for about four seconds, then slowly exhale out of your mouth. Proper breathing will circulate the pressure through your muscles, so no one part of your body is bearing more brunt than it needs to.

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Finally, keep your hips nice and tight. Part of what makes the plank so intensive is the requirement of keeping your body as perfectly horizontal as you can manage. Obviously, your body isn’t built to do that, so if you’re not paying attention, your hips can droop. Drooped hips will put additional unnecessary pressure on your lower back, as well as lower your center of gravity, making it harder for your limbs to keep you up. Keep your feet stable, squeeze those glutes, and make sure those hips stay airborne.