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The plank position transcends through exercise genres. It’s great for your core, that’s why everyone loves it. It’s also really great for the muscles that stabilize your shoulders. The scapula lacks boney attachment so there is a lot that can go wrong there. And when you think about it, there’s not much bone to your middle either. Flex those muscles so the bones are in proper placement for this exercise and you’ll see the results.
5 Keep the Head in Line With the Body
Remember when you were little and you made a funny face and some adult would ruin the fun and tell you that if you kept making that face it will get stuck like that. Well, keeping the head in line with the body is kind of the same principal. Think of placing your ears right in line with your shoulders and keeping energy out the top of your head. This is a really hard one to feel because the cervical spine (neck and head) is off in a lot of people’s resting posture. So if it feels in line, have someone check and give you verbal adjustments if it’s not.
4 Lift Up Out of the Shoulders
The challenge of the plank is fighting with gravity. When gravity wins form suffers. Stabilizing the shoulders is important in this position, especially if you’re down on your forearms. We talked about engaging the lats, that puts you on the right track to shoulder stability. Next push the floor away with your forearms (or hands). This should lift you out of your shoulders and slide your scapula around your rib cage. You want to feel like your rib cage is reaching to the sky. This is proper shoulder position, strengthening your stabilizers to insure the scapula doesn’t wing or tip.
3 Get the Shoulders Out of the Ears
The upper traps hold a lot of tension when we are driving in the car or at the computer. We have to pay extra attention in our workouts to prevent even more tension from going there. Engage the lats (the muscles behind your arm pits) and feel your shoulders depress. You might even feel a slight stretch on the tops of your shoulders. Engaging the lats in this position will not only help your standing posture, but it helps stabilize the scapula in the proper position.
2 Keep the Legs Active
The legs are part of your core, and friends of your abs. Glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps and inner thighs play a big part in the plank, assisting the abs to do their share to taking some of the weight. Squeeze the glutes to take some of the load from the pelvis. Reach the backs of your legs up to the sky engaging the quads, send energy out from your heels firing into the hamstrings. Inner thighs press together and zip up to help the abs. All of a sudden it’s a little easier to hold and harder to tip you over.
1 Lift Up Out of the Lower Back
If you dump your weight into your lower back there is too much pressure on the spine. After all, this exercise is about your core, not your back. Think of drawing the navel into the spine and tucking the pelvis slightly under. But don’t lift your seat up too high and you’ll lose the abdominal connection. It’s about finding that sweet spot between too low (dumping weight into the lower back) and too high (sticking your butt in the air). Find the right position for you.
Once you’ve achieved the right position see how long you can hold it. Try to train your muscle memory to come back to that position every time you do a plank. At first, test yourself in 30-second increments, then up it to a full minute. Take breaks if you start to lose form. If you work at it, you’ll be able to hold to full minute in no time and feel the results!