People all over the internet are challenging each other to do just 30 seconds of planking a day. Planking is just raising yourself from a prone position to hold your weight on your elbows and the balls of your feet and it’s been shown to be the most efficient way to strengthen the core.
In fact, a study at Pennsylvania State University has determined that forearm plank exercises result in more than twice the muscle activity of traditional exercises. The study says “a routine that incorporates [planking] would be optimal in terms of maximizing strength, improving stability, reducing injury, and maintaining mobility.”
But you can do even better than that!
John Sifferman of Physical Living has refined the techniques of the basic forearm plank so that it doesn’t just strengthen the core, but becomes a full-body workout!
We’ve boiled these techniques down to just seven easy steps, so you can get started right away!
1) Breath – As you hold the position, you’ll tighten the abs, glutes, and quads. During this contraction, gently exhale until most of the air is expelled. Then passively inhale. Repeat as you hold the position longer.
2) Arms – Make sure elbows are directly below your shoulders, with your weight only on the upper arms and elbows. You should be able to freely move your forearms and hands to any comfortable position.
3) Shoulders – Pack your shoulders down into the ribcage. In other words, contract the long lats in your back to keep your shoulders firmly down in relation to your torso, not shrugged up around your neck or ears.
4) Spine – Lengthen your spine by lifting your head away from your shoulders, lengthening your neck. The spine will lengthen further when you contract the abs and glutes. Keep the spine straight and long. Don’t round the spine or extend the neck.
5) Feet – Hip-width apart is best, but as with your arms, place your feet in a position that is comfortable for you.
6) Ab and Glute Contraction- Activate the core muscles with a gentle contraction of the abs and glutes, which will result in a slight tailbone tuck. Remember to exhale.
7) Leg Drive – Don’t just balance on the balls of your feet, instead, push your feet backwards into the ground by tightening the quads (muscles on the fronts of your thighs), driving your heels backward, and locking the knees. Keep 50% of your weight on your arms and 50% on your legs, essentially pushing your arms in a forward direction and your legs in a rear direction.