No we’re not talking about a slab of wood that pirates used to make prisoners walk in the days of lore. Nor are we talking about the cartoon character. The plank being referred to here is the popular yoga and Pilate’s workout position that is used to strengthen your body’s core. This type of plank has several modifications for adding difficulty, accommodating injuries or physical conditions, and improving form.
Traditional Plank Form
In yoga the Plank pose is similar in look to performing a push-up, except when you reach the top you hold the position instead of lowering back down to the ground. Your shoulders should be located back and down, while your positioning from head to toe remains in a straight 45 degree angle.
Maintaining this pose requires that your abdominal and back muscles, also known as your core muscles, work in tandem with each other. You should also feel your gluts trigger minimally, but the bulk of this pose should be maintained using the core muscle group.
Modifications for Physical Restrictions
For those who have tendonitis, arthritis, or joint issues in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists, you can modify this pose in several ways for comfort.
The first way is to position yourself on your elbows with your hands palm side down on the floor. This modification removes the compression factor from the wrists and elbows.
The second way to modify this position is by using your knees instead of your toes when getting into your Plank. This position looks similar to what is referred to as a Female Push-up. This modification relieves added pressure and discomfort in the lower back that is caused by extremely week core muscles.
Increasing the Difficulty
If you are one of the fit crowd who can do a traditional Plank without any discomfort or issues, and you would like to increase your difficulty level, there are several things you can do.
Add a twist to the traditional Plank pose to intensify your Oblique muscles workout. To do this, you balance on one hand while in the Plank position and with the other hand reaching towards the ceiling turn your torso sideways until you end-up in what is known as the Side Lying Plank position. Once you are in the Side Lying Plank pose you will bring your free hand back down in a smooth motion as you roll your body back facing the floor extending your arm across your torso, so that your hand is pointing towards the wall. The idea here is to reach for the wall forcing your body to maintain balance while performing the twist motion.
After perfecting the Side Lying Plank, and Plank with a Twist positions you can then increase the difficulty level by using light weight weights with your free hand as you transition positions.
Planks are one of the easiest, most versatile, and effective workout routines that you can do when trying to increase your core strength, improve posture, and stabilize balance issues. Planks are a low impact exercise that can be done with minimal risk of injury that provides substantial results in a short period of time.