Mastering the Plank

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For anyone that knows me, especially those who come to my Yoga Sculpt classes, you know that I love working the core. Why? Well, the core is the foundation for all movement. For runners, yogis, cyclists, walkers; a strong core makes you (generally speaking) more athletic.

To achieve increased mobility and power from your core, you need to work the muscles 360 degrees and perform exercises that require stabilization or balance, rather than moves like crunches that are fully supported (meaning your body weight is supported by the floor).

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One of the best core moves for maximum results? I introduce to you: The Plank. High planks, forearm planks, side-planks; no matter the variation, the plank is a go-to exercise in all of my yoga classes. To achieve maximum results from your plank posture, use these tips for proper alignment:

Shoulders over wrists

Create a strong foundation through your palms by spreading your fingers wide. Pushing through the floor, press up into a push-up position and stack your shoulders directly over your wrists. You’ll immediately feel your shoulders engage, taking some of the pressure off of your wrists.

Hips in line with your shoulders

Create one line from the crown of your head through your heels. Meaning, keep your hips in line with your shoulders. If your core is weak, you might have a tendency to drop your hips low (making a U-shaped inversion in your back). If your core is tired, you can easily cheat by lifting your hips up (creating a triangle shape with your body).

Activate your core

Pull your belly button into your spine. There you go – core activated! Engage your core muscles as you hold your plank to help create a strong foundation.

Gaze

Hold a soft gaze 6 inches (or so) on the floor in front of you. Your neck should be an extension of your spine, creating one line from the tip of your head down your back. Don’t pop your head up to check your form, or hang your head as you get tired.

Breathe 

Your breath is a very important part of holding a plank. It’s easy to hold your breath as you fight the exercise to stay in plank position. Keep breathing! Your breath will bring oxygen and energy to your muscles, allowing you to stay in the plank-hold for longer.

 

Now that you have the tools to do a proper plank, start your own 30-Day Plank Challenge. Time yourself to see how long you can hold a plank on day one. Each day following, beat your previous day’s time. See how long you can hold a plank after 30 days. You’ll surprise yourself!

Let us know!

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About Kelly Molnar

A marketing manager by day, Kelly Magnus has serious passion for keeping active. Kelly believes in making fitness fun by sweating with friends at events like #Sweatworking, or morning run meet-ups. Aside from her day job, she’s an age-group triathlete having completed sprint to half-iron distance races. She’s also a yoga instructor and you can find her teaching strength classes at Studio Three in Chicago. Kelly's hope is that her writing on aSweatLife inspires everyone, no matter their fitness level, to get moving. Kelly is from Wisconsin and attended the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities.