The plank is one basic movement that can work wonders for your body. Not only does it assist you in building a super strong core, when done right the plank can be a total body move that connects your upper and lower body. It works on your abs, back, and core, and is one of the best core conditioning workouts. It also helps in conditioning your glutes, quads and hamstrings, inculcates great posture, and improves balance and stability. Getting into the proper form for a plank is easy, it’s the holding position that requires all your strength and endurance, and which is why this exercise is so legendary. Here are four plank mistakes and how to correct them:
#1. Shoulders In-Line With Wrists
While most of us know the general rule is to keep the back aligned, what we often forget is to line the shoulders with the wrists when planking. Aligning your wrists directly below your shoulders activates shoulder stability and prevents undue stress on the joints of the arms. The easiest way to do this is to be aware of your body weight when you get in the plank position. Take a look at your wrists when you are planking and if you feel that you are hinged way too forward, push your weight a bit more into your toes to neutralize your overall position.
#2. No Belly Sagging
Getting into the plank position is the easy part, maintaining this position is what is tough. Belly sag is something that all of us have experienced when doing the plank. For many, it’s just a few seconds into a plank and our mind starts to give up on us, knees start to unlock and the belly drops. So, instead of feeling the burn in the core, you start feeling it somewhere near the shoulders and the upper back. How to fix it? It is fairly simple and requires one to straighten their legs, suck in the belly and squeeze the quads. This will tighten up up your body and make it easier to keep it parallel to the surface.
#3. Shoulders Touching The Ears
This happens to people who are trying too hard to maintain the plank position. It is common for the upper body to get tensed up, leading to shoulder shrugging and an awkward neck. Again, be aware that your shoulders are riding up and try to relax. Keep your neck neutral with your spine and slowly move the shoulders away from the ears.
#4. Overdoing It
While 2 minutes is the standard plank time, many of us end up overdoing it. But instead of going in for the long haul, keep your plank active. There are many plank variations that you can try to activate several other muscles. The shoulder tap plank works on your shoulders, core and wrists. Similarly, lateral raises with planks add some explosive power in your arms, elbows and shoulders, working them out in unison. The side plank too strengthens the arms, abdomen and legs, improves your send of balance and tones your cores with a focus on your obliques. The idea being that if you are tired of overdoing the classic plank, fit an entire plank medley in the two minutes that you would a regular plank in.