It seems, that there is nothing easier: just stand in the emphasis lying, leaning on pre-shoulders and feet finger-pads – and that’s all. Ask your acquaintances, how long can they stand in this position – most of them will answer “even for an hour”. Actually the exercise is not so easy, as it seems. Try it – you will be surprised of how long a minute can be. In 20 seconds, if you do it right, whole body begins to tremble because of tension, to the end of the first minute you will hate the slowness of the second hand, which you used to find runaway fast. You definitely would not hold for more than minute for the first time, but don’t be upset – there are not so many people, even well-trained, in the world, to whom it comes easy. Thanks to its universality and efficiency, this exercise (in different variations) is included to training complexes of different nations. It is called differently, but nowadays the most popular is the variation with French roots – “plank”.
What muscles work: rectus and oblique abdominals, big buttock muscle, quadriceps.
Performing the exercise: stand in the emphasis lying on your pre-shoulders and feet finger pads. Keep your legs together, arms on shoulder-width. Move your body, so that shoulder joints are right above elbow ones. By using core and leg muscles hold entire body in one plane (photo 1). Hold this position for required time.
Notice: the whole body should be straight – this is the main requirement of high performance of the exercise. Use your leg muscles and don’t let your knees bend even a little. The main attention – to the pelvis, by using your hip, buttock and core muscles, do not let it either bend down, or stich up. Don’t hold your breath – breathe calmly and rhythmically, orienting on 4-1-4-1 count (4 seconds inhale, one second pause, 4 exhale and pause again).
You should try to raise your performance time to 3 minutes. If it doesn’t work yet – start from the period, which you can do with correct technique and raise the time gradually or try easier variations of plank (knee plank or plank on palms), descripted in “Plank for Beginners”.
If the standard variation is not a problem for you anymore – it is about time to try yourself in complicated kinds of this exercise: using a pillar for legs, or three-point (even two-point) plank.
For a change you may try to sometimes “dynamize” the classic kind of plank: every 30 seconds make several front-to-back swinging moves with your core, by bending your arms in soulders and elbows, and also rolling on toes (photo 2).
Also notice the side plank – performing this exercise takes some load off your back, but the oblique abdominals are worked better.
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.
Other articles about plank:
Plank for beginners: about easy variations of plank, done from knees or standing on palms of straight hands.
Plank with legs raised: using a pillar for legs gives your body more horizontal position and increases the load on main muscles.
Three-point plank: to perform the exercise use only one hand or/and one leg.
Side plank: lower the load on lower back and work better on abdominals.