The Plank, or forearm support, is one of the best exercises for your total body workout. But as with any exercise, doing it incorrectly makes the Plank ineffective and potentially painful. To help you get the most out of the otherwise super effective forearm support, we reveal here what the most common mistakes are when doing the Plank. Furthermore, we also give tips on how you can improve your position and thus hold it longer.
Table of Contents
- The Plank exercise – a must for an effective total body workout
- 5 plank mistakes you should avoid at all costs
The Plank exercise – a must for an effective total body workout
The Plank is without a doubt one of the most effective exercises for toned abs and a strong core. For beginners, the exercise is often a nightmare, but when performed correctly, endurance is quickly improved. Whether you have been able to hold the position for a really long time or you only practice it for 20-30 seconds at a time, the exercise is useless if you do it incorrectly. The secret is in the correct position, not only at the beginning, but until the end of the period.
There are several Plank variations , but here the focus is on the classic one – the forearm support.
5 mistakes in plank that you should avoid at all costs.
This is what the correct execution of the exercise looks like:
Plank mistake #1: You let your lower back sag.
This is one of the most common planking mistakes that almost everyone makes, at least in the beginning. When your core starts to fatigue, it’s common for your back to start sagging. Thus, you get into a hollow back and put more pressure on the lumbar region. When the back falls out of alignment, the benefits of the exercise to strengthen the core are also negated. The abdominal muscles no longer work to keep the body straight, which ultimately slows progress.
Although this mistake doesn’t always lead to injury immediately, it does put strain on the lower back, which can lead to pain or tenderness in that area over time.
Here’s how to correct the Plank mistake: Bring your pelvis down to keep your back straight. Remember to pull your belly button into your spine and tilt your hips toward your chest to prevent making a hollow back. To make sure your position is correct, it pays to workout with a training partner. Alternatively, you can take a quick look in the mirror to check your posture.
Mistake No. 2: You look up or to the side
While looking in the mirror or at the clock while planking can help you check your position or motivate you, it can also interfere with proper posture. The key to effective planking is to keep the entire body in a straight line – from the head to the hips to the heels. Any change in position can throw the body off balance and make the exercise ineffective. Furthermore, changes in head position can lead to neck pain and tension in the upper back muscles.
You should pay attention to this when performing the exercise: Think of your head as an extension of your spine and keep your eyes on your hands. This will prevent your neck from stretching and your trapezius muscles from cramping.
Plank mistake #3: You hunch your shoulders.
The longer you plank and the more your body begins to shake, the more erratic your breathing becomes. This is the perfect time to do a form check: are your shoulders hunched up toward your ears? If so, you’re making another common Plank mistake right now. Pulling your shoulders up can cause your upper back muscles to tighten and your neck to fight the tension. In addition, hunched shoulders make it difficult to maintain a consistent breathing pattern, which is necessary for any exercise.
Here’s how to correct the mistake: When planking, make sure you keep your shoulders down and back. If your breathing becomes more labored, check your form and especially if your shoulders are in the right place.
Mistake No. 4: You stretch your hips up or let them sag
The Plank is a full-body exercise that also involves the legs and glutes. After about 40 seconds of a one-minute forearm plank, you may already be tempted to push your hips up toward the ceiling or down toward the floor to give your abs a break. You may even do this without realizing it. However, this will cause you to tighten your shoulders instead of your core, which is a common mistake with the Plank that makes the exercise ineffective.
Here’s how to improve your posture: to activate your core and get your hips in the right position, you should tighten your quadriceps muscles (thighs) and your glutes.
Mistake #5: Plank for too long
The so-called Plank Challenges are very popular on social media and should motivate you to hold the forearm support position a little longer each day over the course of a few weeks. But when it comes to performing the exercise correctly, holding it too long almost always has a bad effect on your form. Holding for long periods of time usually leads to loss of form, and an exercise performed with poor form is pointless. It is much more effective (and safer) to hold the position for a shorter time and perform several series.
Here’s what you can do: Instead of striving for a minute-long plank, repeat the exercise several times in shorter intervals until you master the correct posture. If you want to make the Plank more strenuous, try other variations of the exercise instead to make your workout more varied and effective.