The plank pose’s proper form is communicated succinctly through its name; keep your body straight and rigid. Any deviations from that standard can be problematic.
Looking up from the floor when you’re in plank pose throws off the spine’s alignment, leading to neck strain and contributing to back pain and injuries. Dropping or sagging hips mean your core is losing its strength and your lower back is straining. Put too much weight on your arms and you load pressure onto your elbows and wrists, another recipe for pain.
It’s a fundamental pose for many types of training, so doing it correctly is critical to your fitness present and future.
Follow these steps to ensure you keep everything on track for a comfortable and beneficial plank hold.
Perfect plank form
- Press your hands and knees to the floor with your back in a neutral position and wrists aligned directly under your shoulders. You can also place your elbows on the ground just under your shoulders with your hands stretched our directly in front, palms face down. Gaze about one foot in front of you. Your nose should point toward the floor and the back of your neck should be parallel to the ceiling.
- Extend your right leg back, with toes flexed, then bring your left leg to join it. The weight of your body should now be fully supported by your hands and toes. For beginners if needed, start on your knees and work your way up to balancing on your toes.
- Tighten your entire midsection, as if you were bracing for a punch to the gut — or trying to draw your navel up toward the ceiling. Lift the pelvic floor to engage your deepest ab muscles.
- Hold this position for 20 to 60 seconds, remembering to breathe.
- Bring your knees to the floor, then sit back on your heels, keeping your big toes touching and your knees apart. Lower your torso to let it rest on the tops of your thighs, with your forehead lightly touching the ground. Your arms should be stretched out in front of you, straight but comfortable — this is the child’s pose from yoga.
- Repeat, doing a total of three planks. As doing a plank becomes easier, try holding it for longer than a minute.