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How to do the plank correctly to build strength and stability


The plank strengthens your core muscles, and although it’s quite commonly used, it’s quite an advanced exercise.

For the front plank, lie on the floor on your tummy, then prop yourself up on your forearms and the balls of your feet. You want a straight line from your shoulders, through your hips, to your knees. If you struggle to hold that position, put your knees on the floor. Suck your belly button in a bit to make sure you activate your deeper core muscles – if you don’t, you can end up using only your external abdominal muscles, rather than the ones closest to your spine and pelvis.

For a side plank, lie on your side and prop yourself up on your elbow and forearm. There should be a straight line from your shoulder to your knee. The common error is the hips sag close to the floor, so watch out for this. Then swap sides.

Start off by holding either plank for 15 to 20 seconds, doing two to three sets. Once you can master four sets, and you can hold it for a minute, you’ll want to make it more challenging. From a side plank you can do a dip – lower your hip to the floor and come back up again. With a front plank, do a heel lift – lift the right leg, put it down, then repeat with the left. It doesn’t have to be a long way off the floor, just three or four centimetres, but it adds a stability challenge and gets your glutes involved as well.

Chris Wright, a strength and conditioning coach at Loughborough University, was talking to Emine Saner

Source: TheGuardian