Great Core Exercise
Planks are a bodyweight isolation exercise that works the entire core. They are one of the best core exercises. Why? Undoubtedly, they strengthen your spine, rhomboids, lats, trapezius, core, quads, glutes, hamstrings, shoulders, and triceps. On the other hand, they can be dangerous when done improperly!
Floor Planks are Not Safe for Everyone
Floor planks can be too advanced for seniors, exercise beginners, obese and people with limited mobility. Not only is there a fall risk getting up and down off the floor but also weak core muscles cause improper form. Clearly doing floor planks could be dangerous for the above group of people. The solution is to start with an appropriate safe level.
Easy Plank Solution Levels:
If a client has one of the above mentioned conditions, I start them with one of these three beginner levels.
Level 1 Wall – Easiest level, great for people with shoulder rotator cuff issues because it puts the least amount of stress on shoulder stabilizers. Level 2 Kitchen Counter – this level is appropriate for most people. Last but not least, Level 3 Couch/Chair – Try this level only if you can get up and down off the floor easily.
Determine Your Level
It is important to master the appropriate level before moving onto the next one. How to determine a starting reference point? First thing to do is take a core strength elbow plank test. Start with level 1, timing how long you can hold the plank in proper form (instructions below). If you can hold this level for over a minute easily, then move to the next level and repeat until it is a challenge without form failing or experiencing any joint pain.
Easy Elbow Plank Instructions
Once you determine what level is good for you, practice it 2-3 times a week, adding on 5 seconds a week. This is a great way to get stronger one step at a time. When you are able to hold it for over a minute easily, move to the next level. The addition of upper and lower body movement variations also increases difficulty.
Video Instructions Available
PROPER ELBOW PLANK FORM:
- FORM is KEY to success!
- Set up: About 3 – 4 feet away from a wall, counter or couch.
- Feet/Legs: Hip width apart, press back through the heels.
- Hips/Back: Spine straight, hips/glutes down in a straight line with shoulders.
- Engage glutes and front of quadriceps (front of the thighs).
- Shoulder Blades: Gently squeeze shoulder blades back, down and together.
- Abdominals: ENGAGED, draw navel up towards the spine to prevent the back from arching (sticking butt up in the air) or hips sinking down too low.
- Elbows/Hands: Line up with shoulders.
- Long plank: Fingers spread apart, slight bend to elbows. If you have wrist pain, work on the elbow plank instead.
- Chest: Line up in between arms/hands, keep body elongated tall.
- Head: In line with spine, chin tucked, avoid dropping head.
- Hold the plank, breathing deeply, working through your diaphragm. Inhale through the nose, and exhale all the air out through the mouth(like blowing up a balloon).
Importantly, if you have pain in your lower back or if you do NOT feel any work in your core this means your form is incorrect. Try to realign your hips under your shoulders and pull your abdominals in tight. Above all, if pain continues STOP!
Above all, these beginner elbow planks will get you stronger and more confident!
Feel better with the complete step by step Feel Better Steps® exercise program.