The core includes all the muscles from the pelvic girdle to the shoulder girdle; it connects the lower body and upper body, providing the foundation for all movement. Planks are probably the most common exercise for core training in today’s fitness programs and classes. Some instructors have their students hold planks for up to 5 minutes! However, beyond 30 seconds one should make the exercise more challenging rather than just holding it causing stress to the shoulders and wrists. The exercise is probably causing more harm to those areas in these long duration planks than they are improving core strength.
It’s important to counterbalance “regular” planks with reverse planks and side planks, which are underutilized in most programs. Forearm planks are better than hand planks because your wrists don’t have to be put in a stressful position. Most people (thanks to phones, video games, computers, etc.) already have “less than healthy” wrists, so why add stress to them for the sake of core strengthening? Also it will be much easier to place your shoulders and back muscles in the proper position when performing a forearm plank.
In this video, you’ll see how to do a reverse plank. Reverse planks allow us to work the opposite muscles of a “standard” plank. In this exercise, your back will do all the work, strengthening the muscles along the spine and across the shoulders. Use a step as you learn this exercise and remove the step once you’re ready for a challenge.
- Place your hands on a step or the floor with your wrists straight.
- Draw the tummy in, zipper the legs together, and lift up with the strength of your back.
- Open the chest and shoulders and keep your toes pressing evenly into the ground.
- Hold for 30 seconds.