Monday with a trainer: The perfect plank

(KARI STUART) -- The plank is a powerful move that targets your deep core abdominal muscles, improves stability, and strengthens your arms, shoulders, neck, chest, hips and back muscles. It's a simple but effective total-body exercise that uses no equipment and can be performed almost anywhere.

This static pose is actually not as easy as it looks, but when done with correct form, the benefits are worth the extra effort it takes to master the plank! Here are some tips for a perfect plank:

  • Start similar to a push-up position, but with your weight resting on your forearms rather than the palms. Make sure your elbows are directly under your shoulders.
  • Legs are straight out behind you with feet together and toes grounded. Squeeze the glutes to stabilize the lower body, but careful not to lock the knees.
  • You may want to rest the knees on the ground as a modification while you build core strength.
  • Be mindful of your low back and aim to hold a neutral position of the hips.
  • Maintain equal distribution of your weight between your forearms and the balls of your feet.
  • Keep the head in a neutral position, ears generally in line with your shoulders and your gaze about a foot ahead of your hands.
  • Hold your body static for as long as you can with proper form. Start with 15-20 seconds, work your way up to a minute.

The plank is a great core strengthener for beginners as well as seasoned athletes. As with any exercise, it's very important to make sure you're doing it properly to not only reap the full benefits, but to also ensure that you don't get hurt!

CLICK HERE to view a diagram of my perfect plank geometry.

Once you've mastered the static plank, and can hold it consistently for 30 seconds in good form, it's time to take it to the next level add some plank variations. Remember, especially in fitness, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. So, even though the static plank is a very effective core strengthener, you should still mix it in with other dynamic core strength exercises and also make sure you're progressing towards these variations on the plank.

Let's see your perfect plank! Post a picture of your perfect plank on Instagram with the hashtag #perfectplank and make sure you tag @symmetry4me.

Kari Stuart, co-owner Symmetry:


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