Planks are the best form of exercise because they are easy to do, can be done anywhere, and work many muscles at the same time, especially the all important core muscles. You do not need fancy equipment or clothes or an expensive gym membership to perform planks. All you need is your body and floor space.
There are a few guidelines to follow to maintain the proper plank position:
- The elbows are directly under the shoulders
- The legs are stretched out like when doing pushups.
- The buttocks (gluteus maximus) are tensed
As a beginner, start with the simplest variation (level 1) where your knees and forearms rest on the floor. As your core and other muscles get used to the planks, you can progress to the next level. These variations with the forearms on the floor are great for those who suffer from arthritis whose wrists or hands cannot support their weight. If your arthritis prevents you from trying the other variations, simply do the level one variation more often and for longer periods of time.
Stay in this position for as long as possible, but do not forget to breathe. Keep your back straight (like a plank) from your knees to your head in this pose, or from your heels to your head in the more advanced pose shown below. Do not let your stomach and hips sag as indicated in the bottom picture, and keep your head in line with the rest of your body, like the top picture…
Other, more complicated and strenuous variations of the plank are also available:
Start slow and let your body decide when to move to the next level. You will be amazed at how great you feel…