Hi Everybody, Kris Stokes from Custom Fitness studio here your personal trainer in Amarillo, Texas.  Today I wanted to talk with you a little bit about the form and function of a plank. A plank is actually kind of funny thing to me because in recent slang it has become an action verb. People will go out “planking” all the time taking pictures of themselves and posting them on Facebook all the time. Whereas an actual plank is a very versatile exercise used to strengthen the core muscles and build endurance through that. If you have any questions about what we discuss here, please feel free to give us a call at 806-322-3188.

Planks can be a really great exercise to do and there are a million ways to do them– just like everything else, but regardless I want to work on some form and technique tips and questions today to kind of help you get the most out of your plank. They can be done incorrectly just as easily as they can be done correctly, it’s just a matter of how much thought and focus you want to put into it. The more thought that you put into the actual exercise that you’re doing, whether it is a plank or something else, the more work you’re going to get out of it, more muscle engagement and a better result you’re going to see from it. A plank is a great way to strengthen the core whether it is a frontal plank to strengthen your front, side planks to strengthen the back, or even the reverse planks that you do during yoga and other classes like that, these positions will help you build flexibility through the movements. You are also going to increace your strength and muscle endurance as you build these up. There just are not really a lot of other exercises that can compete with Planks. Today what we are going to do is explain some tips and tricks for this position. I am going to have one of our trainers, Hannah, come in and help us out.  (Come on over )and so she’s going to get down into a plank position.

Hannah will start in a high plank position on her hands and toes.  (Hannah I am going to have you move forward a bit so everyone can see everything). So when we are in this high plank position what we are looking for is a long flat back first off. If you were to need to modify this position we can easily have you drop to your knees or even lower down onto the forearms if we needed to. Dropping this low would create a Low Plank position for someone who’s just beginning.  No matter which way you choose to do it we are still looking for that flat back position especially through the shoulder blades.  It is really easy when you are in a Plank to round out your shoulder blades and become kind of hunched in your shoulders and push through those. Instead, we want to try to flatten that back and as we do, you’ll notice that your tummy has to take more of the strain of the exercise. You definitely want to be sure and engage that core (your stomach) when you are doing this. When I say “engaging” that means you are squeezing from your belly button to your pubic bones.  Squeeze it in nice and tight as though you were coughing or sneezing that’s what you want to feel.

(So go ahead and go back into a High Plank position, Hannah).  As we hold here, we want to make sure that our hips are held level: not jutting upward into more of a down dog position, nor

sagging down where were arched in the back. I’m going to keep the hips in a nice level position to the floor. Soo…. that is it, right? A lot of people think that that’s all you do for this exercise, but there’s actually a little bit more that we can do to engage deeper to get better results from our plank. Surprise, your Amarillo personal trainers are going to take this ho-hum exercise up a notch, so you can really feel it.

What we can do here is we press our heels back towards the wall behind us while maintaining our shoulders on top of our hands. If you shift back with your heels you will notice your shoulders come back away from your hands and we would have to walk the hands back to realign them with the shoulders. However, as we hold that aligned (shoulders over hands) position we are starting to rely on that core little bit more. The next thing that we can do is pretend as though we were on maybe a mat or a blanket and that we were going to squish our hands and feet towards each other. To clarify, we don’t actually move our hands or feet; they don’t go anywhere but we engage those muscles as if we were to actually squish them towards each other. That is going to create a deeper engagement to the core causing everything in the middle to contract and pull inward. You’re also getting a lot of good lat work in this position and you’re getting a little bit more of a stretch when the legs are pressing those heels back.

The same thing to be done on your knees; so if we drop down to our knees we would still pretend to squish the knees and the hands together creating that same abdominal contraction. This extra level of engagement doesn’t have to be in the hardest form of a plank that you can think of, but rather in the most effective and efficient form of a plank that you can physically be in.  Go ahead and release out Hannah, thanks for your help.  So we want to keep you safe in whatever exercise you are doing. If you are performing an exercise in an unsafe way, you are not really benefiting your body.

If you would like our help with tips or tricks or how to make things better for you or more efficient, we at the Custom Fitness studio are ready to help you out. We are YOUR personal trainers in Amarillo, Texas. Feel free to give us a call 806-322-3188 or you can email us at info@customfitness.biz. See you soon!