Move of the Week: The Plank

The "modified" plank, as modeled by Jana McDermid. Use this variation if you

It’s that time again: our fantastic personal trainer Jana McDermid from our Pickering club teaches you the proper form for an important exercise! To book a session with Jana or any of our other personal trainers, call our Pickering location or fill out our online form.

The plank is a great way to build endurance in both the abs and back, as well as the stabilizer muscles.

Modified Plank

1. Position yourself on your hands and knees. If you’re uncomfortable with your knees on the bare floor, place a yoga mat, thin pillow or other padding under your knees.
2. Walk your hands slowly forward until your body forms a straight line from head to knees. Your hips should neither pike above, nor sag below, the line of your body.
3. Lower yourself to your elbows, resting your forearms flat on the floor. Your elbows should be positioned directly below your shoulders.
4. Hold the position for as long as you can, breathing normally and squeezing your abs to keep your body straight. If you reach a point where you can’t keep your hips in line with the rest of your body, it’s time to take a break.

Plank from Forearms and Toes

1. Lie face down on the mat resting on your forearms, palms flat on the floor.
2. Push off the floor, raising up onto toes and resting on your elbows.
3. Keep your back flat, in a straight line from head to heels.
4. Tilt your pelvis and contract your abdominals to prevent your rear end from sticking up in the air or sagging in the middle.
5. Hold for 20 to 60 seconds, lower and repeat for 3-5 reps.

High Plank

1. Start face down on a mat with weight evenly distributed between your hands and toes, in what is commonly known as the end or starting position of a pushup.
2. Keep your head in alignment with your spine and keep a straight line from heels through shoulders and head. Extend out and upward from the shoulders so your entire core is engaged without any sagging into the shoulder joints.
3. Build up to being able to hold this static pushup position for 20 to 60 seconds.

Things to Remember

Don’t let your hips sag down to the ground. Sagging hips makes the exercise initially easier, but it’s not a plank and it defeats the purpose of the exercise.

Look down at the ground. This is a good prompt for maintaining a neutral neck position.

When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug and try again another time. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank! Remember that this is a tough exercise, and you’ll improve with practice.

If you’d like to work with Jana, or any of our other expert personal trainers or kinesiologistscall your club or fill out our online form and we’ll get you set up asap!