Fix The Way You Plank — 4 Quick Techniques To Do The AB PLANK Exercise Like A Boss
The ab plank exercise is one of the kings of the abdominal kingdom. It’s in almost every one of my WOTMs and ab workouts. And for good reason.
The plank is a unique exercise that works three-fold. It carves out definition and builds ab muscle mass, develops massive amounts of core strength, and simultaneously sucks the core in tight like a vacuum and flattens the region.
Translated: ab planks define, build, AND flatten the abs all at once. And that’s because planks—unlike other one-dimensional ab exercises—uniquely engage and hammer the entirety of the core, inside and out, including the rectus and transverse abdominis, the major superficial and underlying abdominal muscles.
That all sounds lovely. But there’s one major problem: you’re almost definitely planking wrong.
Seriously, we all suck at planks. We can do better. Even if you’re able to hold a plank for 1, 2, or 3 minutes (BEAST MODE), it’s most likely driven by terrible form.
I see it in the gym and workout classes almost every day. And that’s sad, because even though you’re putting in the work, you won’t get the core engagement or abdominal results to show for it.
At best, poor, droopy form directly translates into decreased core engagement and a suboptimal ab workout; at worst, it compromises the lower back and shoulders, and can lead to major injury.
Stop blasting your shoulders, arms, and hip flexors and redirect the focus where it’s meant to be — point blank on and throughout your abs.
Implement these quick tips, correct your plank form, and watch your abs pop.
4 Quick Techniques To Do The AB PLANK Exercise Like A Boss
The following 4 rules of the plank exercise are essentials. Consider it your ab plank checklist. Every time you hit the deck, run through this 4-pack before proceeding.
Once you’ve implemented all 4, you’re ready to rock.
1. Maintain a neutral spine.
That is, your spine and back should stay completely flat throughout the movement, starting at your shoulder blades and ending all the way down by your butt. Most people allow their bodies to droop (like a U) or stick their butt high up into the air.
Don’t do either — stay strong and flat.
Practice doing planks next to a mirror to accurately follow what your body looks like.
2. Keep your butt up (but not too far up).
Per #1, one of the main reasons why people compromise their form, and consequently the integrity of their lower back, is because they drop their butt.
This often happens out of fatigue mid-plank, but some people start with a droopy butt. That’s a huge no-no. Squeeze your butt and keep it up and engaged throughout the movement. Don’t let your hips sag, otherwise you’ll put unwanted stress on your lower back.
Conversely, don’t push your butt up into the air — it takes all of the tension off of your abs. STAY NEUTRAL. An imaginary broomstick should be able to sit on top of your back without falling off.
3. Push down through your elbows into the floor.
One of the most effective tricks to help evenly distribute tension, increase core stability, and boost ab engagement is by pushing your elbows and forearms into the ground. Contract your lats and REALLY push through your forearms, as if you’re trying to move the earth below you.
You’ll see an immediate boost in core strength and abdominal engagement, and watch in awe as your plank times skyrocket.
And just as a reminder, your elbows should sit directly underneath your shoulder joint at a 90º angle.
4. SQUEEZE your abs.
Like, REALLY squeeze the living the hell out of them. Brace your abs as if they’re about to get bunched by Mike Tyson. And hold it for the duration of your plank.
That’s it. Once you’ve nailed down the form, focus on progression. Actively aim to increase your plank time during each workout, until you can hold it effectively for 2-3 minutes without breaking a sweat.
ELLO ELLO I'm Bryan DiSanto.
I'm the Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Lean It UP
, a CPT/CSN/Fitness Coach, Chef trained at Le Cordon Bleu – Paris, NYU graduate, ex-fat kid
, and all-around fitness junkie.
I also contribute to Men's Health Magazine
When I'm not working on my abs (or somebody else’s), whipping up avocado roses
and avocado toast, or running a Tough Mudder, I'm probably yelling at a Carolina Panthers game somewhere.
Come be friends with me on Instagram (@BRYDISANTO)
& Snapchat (BRYDISANTO)
Latest posts by Bryan DiSanto (see all)