If the classic plank (on pre-shoulders and feet finger pads) is difficult for you, I propose you to train easier variations (though they can not be called easy either): leaning on pre-shoulders and knees, and also in classic emphasis lying, leaning on palms and feet finger pads.
If the easiness of the firs variation is obvious (reduced the body length, that is involved in the exercise), the second variation could rather seem more difficult. But that is not true, the difficulty of performing the plank raises as your body closes to horizontal position, so one of the complicated variations of plank is the plank with legs raised (when the body is almost horizontal). But later with that, first let’s master easier variations of plank.
What muscles work: rectus and oblique abdominals, big buttock muscle, quadriceps.
Performing the exercise: stand in the emphasis lying, leaning on pre-shoulders and knees (photo 1). Coordinate your body, so that knees and shoulders were on one line. Hold your body straight by using core and leg muscles.
Notice: in this position your pelvis bends more often than sticks up, but you should avoid both. Look down, to avoid excessive tension of neck muscles. Do not forget to breathe rhythmically, don’t hold your breathe. Keep your legs together. If you are exercising on hard floor – put small towels under your knees and elbows or use a gymnastic carpet. Gradually make the performance of the exercise to 2 minutes, after that you can move up to the next exercise.
Plank on Palms and Feet Finger Pads
Performing the exercise: stand in the starting position, like for classic push-ups, leaning on palms and feet finger pads (photo 2). All three joints (wrist, elbow and shoulder) should be on one line, hands perpendicular to the floor. Use your buttock and hip muscles, as well as abdominals to hold the whole body straight. Stay in this position for at least 2 minutes.
Notice: as you get tired, you can inadvertently start to bend in pelvis, that’s why at first you may need control: ask your relatives to watch you, put a mirror beside you or record your performance on video. If because of lasting standing your wrists start to hurt – try standing on knuckles (previously put something soft, but not slippery), to avoid excessive stretch of wrist’s tendons. Watch your breathe, don’t hold it, though it might become superficial.
If you managed to do several reps of each exercise, described here, at least for 2 minutes – move on to the classic plank.
Good books to read:
Bret Contreras. Bodyweight Strength Training Anatomy – Human Kinetics, 2013 – 224 p.
Kavadlo Al. Pushing the Limits: Total Body Strenght with No Equipment – Dragon Door Publications, 2013 – 224 p.
BJ Gaddour. Your Body Is Your Barbell: No Gym. Just Gravity. Build a Leaner, Stronger, More Muscular You in 28 Days – Rodale, 2014 – 288 p.