Whether you are a new to fitness or a professional, chances are you're familiar with the plank. This versatile exercise works the whole body as well as the mind. If you're anything like me, I struggle to keep my mind focused on anything but the pain! Here is a little trick I learned from on of my mentors to make your planks more effective.
I used to be impressed when I hear that someone can hold a plank for 5+ minutes. Now, after learning how to make the plank more active, the entire game has been changed! Are you ready to make your planks active? It will blow your mind! Here we go.
Get into a forearm plank on the floor and hold it. Please do NOT clasp your hands together. That is so cheating! ;) Don't adjust anything in your position. Just do this as you normally do, other than clasping your hands, that is. Now, let's take a survey of your body and how you feel. Keep that in your mind as we move to the next part.
Now, stand up and align your legs with your hip points and be sure you're parallel. Elbows bent at 90 degrees palms facing in toward one another. Engage your calves, glutes, hamstrings and quads. Feel that? Keep the engagement. Now, let's add in the abdominal muscles. Pull the naval in and up and feel the abs wrapping like a tight corset or a weight belt. Continue the engagement of all of this. Lastly, the spine. Find a "push/pull" feeling where it feels like you're being pulled in all directions Front, back, and side to side as if the spine is in a muscular tug-o-war in all 4 directions. Ground your feet and grow tall in opposition.
Take it back down to the floor again in a forearm plank position. Engage the muscles just as you did in the standing exercise. Do you feel the difference? THAT is an ACTIVE PLANK. Why is this important? If you think about it, all movements stem from the plank. When we are standing and our muscles activated, we are actually in a plank! Who knew.
Try it and then leave a comment to tell me what difference you discovered.
*Please keep in mind that you should never feel any pain in your lower back. If you feel this, lift your hips higher or lower your knees to the ground, but keep it active.
Keep it up Pilates Peeps! Happy Pilates Bodies!