icon-account icon-glass

Join the community!

We'll keep you up to date with interesting news, product information and offers so you never miss out.

No boring newsletters and we'll never share your address. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Popular Products

The Lean Protein
Whey protein powder for weight-loss.
The Energy Booster
Pre/intra-workout powder with BCAAs.
The Glow Booster
Collagen supplement for skin.

How To Do The Perfect Plank

25th March 2021

25th March 2021

By Shivraj Bassi

You can’t have a workout without a plank. That’s not a widely used saying, but it might as well be. The plank is useful for all ages, body types and fitness levels, and are great whether you’re doing cardio or strength training. 

Are you sure you’re doing this basic exercise correctly, however? It’s pretty likely that you aren’t, and are indulging in some bad habits which will prevent you from using this staple to its full potential. 

Before you start, invest in a good mat to protect your hands and your body from the ground and make sure that you have plenty of space to stretch out - the plank is a full body exercise, after all. 

If you’re just starting out working on your planking technique, try aiming for three sets of seconds, with a minute’s rest between each set. You can then aim to build this up to five sets of a minute each, by which time you’ll be a planking legend. Don’t forget those rests, though, or your endurance won’t be as good in the long term. 

Use your whole body

The plank is truly as hard as you make it. If you want to stick your bum in the air, hold your neck tense and bend your elbows, so be it, but you won’t be getting as much out of it as you could. What you should be aiming for is full body tension. Every part of you, from your wrists to your ankles, should be rigid. To achieve this, keep tension in your shoulder blades, concentrate on holding the entirety of your arms perpendicular to the ground, stay tight in your core and squeeze both your quads and your knees. 

If you’re struggling with the amount of bodily tension required, reduce the amount of time you plank for rather than adjusting your technique to make it easier. It’s far better to hold a plank for 20 seconds the correct way than five minutes in a more sloppy way. 

Keep your back flat

Photo by Boxed Water Is Better on Unsplash

The back is an overlooked part of the perfect plank. Plank form means keeping your back parallel to the ground while you hold the position. A good image to hold in your mind is balancing a full dinner plate’s worth of food on your back. 

Another tip is to actively drive your elbows into the ground, and keep your arms straight. Then bring your shoulder blades in the equation and envisign squeezing them too. Upper back tension should be maintained throughout how to do a plank exercise. 

Don’t forget about your glutes

If you don’t squeeze your glutes, your butt will stick up into the air and ruin that flat back you’ve been working so hard on. By squeezing here, you’ll drive your hips into neutral and enable you to have a clean line all the way from your shoulders to your legs. 

Keep those abs tight

The plank is often touted as an ab exercise, which is true. Don’t just keep your core clenched, but actively flex your abs and feel them working as you hold this plank position. A good thing to image is keeping your ribcage ‘closed’ - picture this and your abs will be flexed in no time at all. 

Want to make it harder? Try these plank variations

Mastered the original plank and want to make things a little harder for yourself? One of the benefits of the plank as an exercise is its versatility. It’s perfect for building on and incorporating into other moves.

Forearm plank

This version of a plank will challenge your core even more, although you might think that the added base of your forearms on the ground rather than just your arms would make things easier. You would be wrong! 

To get into position, bend your elbows and place your whole forearms on the floor, with your elbows just below your shoulders. Face your palms in and make a fist with your hands. 

Plank with arm extension

This version of a plank will challenge your core even more, and the arm release here works the muscles in your upper back and shoulders. This will give you more stability in the long run. 

To perform this exercise, bring your right hand off the ground and bring your right arm up in front of you. Pull in your abs and squeeze those glutes once more to hold your body stable. Hold for up to 30 seconds, then release before repeating on the other side in the same manner. Repeat this on each side for 10 reps. 

Plank with leg extension

Much the same as above, but with a leg extension instead of an arm one. This works your back and leg muscles as well as your abs, so it’s great for improving over stability and strength. 

From a classic plank position, lift your right leg a few inches off the floor, holding it straight out. Lift upwards until your back and glute muscles engage. Hold for 30 seconds then release, and repeat on the other side. Repeat each side a total of 10 times. 

If you’re looking for a little extra workout power, try our The Energy Booster, which will help to supercharge your exercise regime. 

Need Expert Advice?

Other Insights

Fun Workout Activities for Couples: Strengthen Your Bond While Getting Fit Together!
Beginners Guide to the Gym
Beginner Workout Advice Embarking on a new fitness journey can be both exciting and challenging. To get you motivated, we're here to help you understand the science and benefits of joining your local gym or fitness club and to provide you with a basis for a beginner gym workout plan to help you understand how to start working out in the gym. Benefits of getting started in the gym: Regular exercise has many benefits for both the body and mind. On the physical front, getting started at the gym and completing consistent workouts can contribute to enhanced cardiovascular health, promoting a healthy heart and aids blood circulation. Regular exercise is also great for maintaining a healthy weight, managing muscle tone, and strengthening the skeletal system.The cognitive benefits of regular exercise is equally impressive. Scientifically, physical activity of even just 10-30 minutes can stimulate the release of neurotransmitters such as endorphins, which contribute to an improved mood and reduced stress levels. Exercise is also associated with the growth of new neurons in the brain, fostering enhanced cognitive function, sharper memory, and better overall mental power. A basic beginner workout for the gym: Basic Bag Prep: Double check you’ve packed everything you need for your new gym-venture. Think: water, lock, music, towel. Cardio Warm-up (10 minutes): Start with a brisk walk, jog, or cycling to elevate your heart rate and warm up your muscles. As a little hack, this should be at a pace you still feel comfortable to talk at. Follow this up with some basic dynamic stretches, if your stuck on ideas, there’s some great programmes and YouTube content out there. The worlds your oyster! Resistance Training (20-30minutes): Try an incorporate compound exercises like squats, lunges, and bench presses for a full-body workout. Begin with bodyweight exercises if you're new to resistance training and focus on nailing technique. Cardiovascular Exercise (15 minutes): Engage in activities like running, cycling, or rowing to boost your endurance fitness. Choose activities you enjoy to make it more sustainable, and even pair it up with a new gym playlist to help you enjoy getting a sweat on. Cool Down and Stretching (10 minutes): Conclude your first gym session with some additional stretches to improve flexibility and reduce any muscle soreness you may feel the next day. Focus on major muscle groups and hold each stretch for 15-30 seconds.   Things to remember as a beginner working out in the gym: Nervous is normal: Stepping into a gym for the first time can be nerve-wracking. Understand that it's normal to feel a bit anxious, as you're pushing yourself outside your comfort zone. With consistent effort, confidence will naturally grow.Quality over quantity: This is crucial in fitness. Short, focused workouts can be highly effective. Overtraining can lead to burnout and injury, so prioritize consistency and rest for sustainable progress.Motivation fluctuates for everyone: Acknowledge that it's normal to have off-days. Even a lighter workout is better than none. Remember your initial goals and the positive impact exercise has on your well-being.It's Okay to Fail: Failure is an integral part of growth. If a workout doesn't go as planned, view it as an opportunity to learn and improve. Embrace the challenge, for it is through overcoming failures that true progress is made.Gaining a helping hand: Don't hesitate to ask for help from gym staff or fellow gym-goers. Asking for help is a smart way to learn the correct techniques, making your workouts more effective and reducing the risk of injury. Risk, Reduction, Repeat… Making sure we are keeping ourselves safe in the gym is king, especially when getting the most out of our new regime. Begin each session with a dynamic warm-up to increase blood flow, preparing muscles for activity and reducing injury risk. Prioritise technique over weight, ensuring proper form to prevent strain and reduce the risk of injury. Incrementally increase exercise intensity and duration to avoid overexertion and reduce the risk of injury. Follow a structured program that gradually challenges your fitness level, preventing overtraining, and ask your local personal trainer for what this might potentially look like if you’re unsure. Allow adequate time for rest and recovery to prevent overtraining, reducing the risk of injury. Listen to your body, pay attention to early warning signs, and schedule rest days between intense workouts. Remember, consistency is key. Begin with manageable intensity and gradually progress to more challenging workouts. Always consult a fitness professional or healthcare provider before starting a new exercise program, especially if you have pre-existing health conditions. Enjoy the journey to a healthier, stronger, and sharper you! Read more