You can work out your entire body with planks. It may take some time to nail down proper form, as they work so many muscles (that’s why your shoulders, glutes, and core begin to burn when you do ’em right…). Once you’ve mastered the pose, make sure you can hold it for some time.
Planks are a total body exercise that utilizes a variety of muscles, including the abdominals, shoulders, lower back, hips, and legs, explains John Shackleton, MS, CSCS, a strength and conditioning coach at Villanova University. The mental strength required to hold the plank for a long period of time is also difficult, and many people struggle with that as well.
There are a few things you may be doing wrong if you’ve been practicing planks for years and still aren’t hitting a perfect plank. If you read through the tips below, you’ll soon be able to hold a ten-minute plank like Jenifer Aniston.
1. Your elbows are hurting
Planks can be a great workout but they can be hard on the elbows and other body parts, says Shackleton. The pain of doing planks can be a hindrance – particularly if you’re performing them on a hard surface without cushioning below. Put a soft pad under your elbows or a yoga mat to remedy this. The quaking in your core will be the only discomfort you have to deal with because you’ll have less tension.
2. Your breath is not adequate
You should not forget to breathe while you hold the plank position, even though you may be focused on engaging your muscles. Inhale for 3-4 seconds, then exhale for 3-4 seconds, then repeat this cycle 10 times to complete a full set. By breathing comfortably, you will not only stay calm but also make sure all of your muscles are working properly. Follow his recommendation of three sets per person, with a minute rest between each set.
3. You’re trying to tackle too many tasks at once
Doing so in planks can help you get the hang of things before moving on to the full expression, and there’s nothing wrong with modifying your moves (we repeat: there’s nothing wrong with modifying your moves!). Holding a traditional plank will not give you enough support while also engaging the muscles in your core if you keep your knees touching the ground. In this way, you can more easily practice the exercise until you can perform a true plank. When you don’t overexert yourself and use a modified plank, you will develop the strength and confidence to keep getting better and better, he says. Plus, you will avoid injuries by listening to your body.
4. Your hips are sinking
You cannot improve your planks if you have poor posture and sink your hips. Often people sink their hips when they get fatigued, but this is not good form because your lower back will be put at more stress and may later be injured,” says Shackleton. As you perform the exercise, make sure you squeeze and lift your glutes on the way up and out. If you notice your hips dipping, fix it immediately. Be more in tune with your body.
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